The trauma surrounding acts of sexual assault and rape is undeniable. Let me begin by saying no survivor is the same. Each survivor is an individual and each will react to trauma in an individual way. While, there are many normative behaviors associated with traumatic experience, by no means should one expect a survivors of sexual assault to act or react the same. It is critical for those working with survivors to 1) seek deeper understanding of the trauma process and 2) get to know the individual that has experienced the trauma.
It is difficult to imagine all the things that sexual assault survivors must face. First, facing what has happened and the physical and emotional pain. When a person has been sexual assaulted it is a violation of self. They have had something taken from them and may experience difficulty in identify exactly what was lost (this may take years of work) , survivors will undoubtedly experiencing a grieving process and may need help walking that path. Sometimes, individuals don’t even want to be identified as a victim or a survivor of any assault, let alone sexual assault.
I want to point out some brief statistics from www.rainn.org :
- 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
- College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
Sexual Assault Numbers
- In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of sexual assault.
- Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
Reporting to Police
- 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
- Reporting has increased by 1/3 since 1993.
- Approximately 73% of rape victims know their assailants.
- Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.
Unless you have been assaulted, have a closed loved one who has been assaulted or you have worked with victims of sexual assault; it is quite possible that you haven’t truly considered what happens to the victim and to the community when a person is sexually assaulted. I think that many people believe that sexual assault or rape is mainly a violent act committed by violent strangers or that it is something that happens when women get too drunk and then they get taken advantage of. However, if you consider the types of and occasions when rape is reported, consider all the unreported acts of sexual violence and you should begin to get sick to your stomach.
- Consider this from www.rainn.org 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.”
- Consider this research from the The National Center of Victims of Crime “although child sexual abuse is reported almost 90,000 times a year, the numbers of unreported abuse is far greater because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004).
- 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
- 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.
These numbers are staggering. Those number indicate that we obviously have a bigger problem with sexual assault than many of us chose to recognize. Sadly, so many of those victims are voice children, who are assault by family members and loved ones. Many of them learn that they have no choice and no voice. Sadly, they live with the pain and often go on to be victimized further and/or develop maladaptive coping skills that do not lead to proper healing.
So what I am saying is we need to educated! We need to work to expose perpetrators of sexual assault and violence. We need to look at triggers and help educate and prevent BEFORE the trauma happens. Believe me this is serious business folks. No one thinks it is ever going to be them or anyone that they know, but based on these statistics it is very probable it IS someone who is close to you, perhaps even someone you know and love. So go out get educated so that you can begin to make a difference.