April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) so we thought we take a second to talk with you about sexual abuse.
What is sexual assault?
It isn’t just rape or attempted rape. It can be:
- Unwanted kissing, touching or sexual advances
- Rough or violent sexual activity
- Refusing to use or preventing someone from using birth control
- Using intimidation or threats to initiate sexual activity
Who are the victims?
Victims are male and female, LGBTQ or straight and come from all ethnicities and walks of life.
Forty-four percent of victims are under the age of 18. Eighty percent of victims are under the age of 30 (RAINN).
Who are the perpetrators?
Both men and women can sexually assault someone, and two-thirds of sexual assault victims know their attacker. Thirty-eight percent of abusers are friends or family members (RAINN).
Unfortunately, some people don’t even realize that their behavior is sexually abusive. When two people are dating or married, they sometimes forget that consent is still necessary before engaging in any sexual activity.
Always check with your partner to make sure that they want the same things that you do when it comes to sex. Just because they wanted to do something yesterday, does not mean that they want to do it today.
What should I do after an attack?
The most important thing after a sexual assault is that the victim gets to a safe place. After this, they can decide what their next step will be.
It’s extremely important that a victim of sexual assault receives medical attention — regardless of their decision about whether or not to report the incident. A doctor will be able to treat victims for injuries and test for STI’s.
Most emergency rooms have specialized kits which they can use when examining a rape victim. Doctors can collect DNA evidence which can be key to identifying a perpetrator. It’s your choice whether or not they use this.
If you decide that you would like to report an assault, it is crucial that you do not destroy any evidence. Although it’s difficult to resist the urge, you’ll have to avoid showering, using the restroom, changing clothes, combing your hair or cleaning up the crime scene.
What are the effects of sexual assault?
In addition to the physical effects of sexual assault, victims often also suffer from depression, self-harming tendencies, Stockholm syndrome, flashbacks, borderline personality disorder and many other psychological disorders.
Why don’t more people report?
Sexual assault is extremely common, yet drastically underreported. Of the nearly 207,754 men and women who are attacked each year, only about two-thirds report their assault (RAINN).
There are a host of reasons that people don’t report their assaults, including the ones below:
- Unfortunately there is a great deal of shame associated with being sexually assaulted
- Many people aren’t fully aware of what constitutes as sexual assault
- Since many victims know their attackers, they often don’t want to report them or characterize them as being rapists
In honor of SAAM, spread information about assault to your friends. To learn about the history of SAAM and find ideas of how you can participate, check out the official SAAMsite.
You have the power to help people this April, so join the conversation surrounding sexual assault.
Want to talk a little more about sexual assault? Talk to us about it. Comment below on how you plan on spreading the word about SAAM.