April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). According to the Office on Women’s Health:
“Sexual assault is any kind of unwanted sexual activity from touching to rape. If you have been sexually assaulted, it is not your fault, and you are not alone. You can get help.”
Sexual assault is any sexual activity YOU DO NOT CONSENT TO.
Even if you said “yes” in the past does not mean you are saying yes now.
The Office on Women’s Health provides such valuable information and resources available to victims of sexual assault. They report that nearly half of female rape victims were raped by a current or former partner. Less often, a stranger commits sexual assault.
Sexual assault can be committed by women and men, the Office on Women’s Health reports that
”90% of people who commit sexual violence against women are men”.
If you think you’ve been raped, consider taking these steps provided by the Office on Women’s Health on their fact sheet by clicking here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines sexual violence as:
”Any sexual activity where consent is not freely given”.
The statistics are staggering regarding sexual violence. The CDC states that “In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact as some point in their lives”.
Sadly, many victims do not tell the police, family or friends about the violence. There is a failure to report sexual assault for many reasons. Shame, fear of judgment and blame are but a few of the reasons. Reasons such as a general distrust of law enforcement as well as a fear of retaliation are also reasons many people will not come forward to report sexual assault/violence.
One resource you can contact if you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence is the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: 1-800-656-HOPE.
The US Department of Justice’s Office Of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is a wonderful resource. They have a series of articles on sexual assault awareness, prevention and intervention on their website.
A wonderful resource for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is the I Ask campaign.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. The campaign theme, I Ask champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal and necessary part of everyday interactions.
Learn the basics of how to ask for and recognize consent:
We started this series of articles with an article on situational awareness. Here are just a few suggestions to improve your safety in social situations:
- Trust your instincts.
- Pay attention to that bad feeling you get.
- If at all possible, go to parties and social events with friends.
- Be cognizant of how much you drink. If you are drunk or high, you cannot consent to sexual activity or you may not know what is going on.
- Situational awareness.
- Remember that date rate drugs have no odor or taste.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:
More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
Do you know where campus police is? The campus health center?
The statistics are staggering. There are several safety apps that students can utilize to help with their personal safety. These are but a few:
Victims of assault do not always understand that one of the primary reasons for reporting the assault against them is so that healthcare professionals can check for DNA, as well as evaluate any injuries sustained in the assault. Preventative treatment with medications may be required as well.
Some women will develop STDs/STI’s (sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infections) as a result of their assault.
It should be noted that not all STDs have obvious symptoms. This is why seeing a physician is so critically important.
If your physician wants you to follow-up, it is very important to do so. Not all repercussions from sexual assault occur immediately, and future testing may be required.