Sad young woman

April is sexual awareness month. While many organizations are doing a great job, raising sexual assault awareness is a lifetime commitment. In America, every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted.  What’s even more shocking, is that there is a myriad of troublesome statistics about sexual assault. According to RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network),

  • 1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of attempted /completed rape
  • 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male
  • 9 out of every 10 rape victims are female
  • Most sexual assaults occur at or near the victim’s home

It’s no secret that sexual violence is a serious problem that must be stopped.

The negative impact sexual assault has on a victim’s life is disheartening. While every case is different, most victims of sexual assault experience the following:

  • Symptoms of PTSD 2weeks to 9 months after the assault
  • 13% attempt suicide
  • They are 10x more likely to use major drugs than the public
  • They are more likely to have strained relationships with their family, peers, or loved ones.

The best way to stop sexual violence is to prevent it from happening in the 1st place.  However, most prevention programs focus on how “victims” can reduce their risk by education, awareness, and self-defense.  While other programs focus on the perpetrator to change their behavior or reduce their risk of sexually assaulting someone.   However, according to CDC.GOV, only 3 programs that focus on preventing sexual violence perpetration have been effective. These programs include:

Safedates– Designed to prevent emotional, physical and sexual abuse in relationships

Shifting Boundaries Focuses on reducing dating violence and sexual harassment

RealConsent—Preventing sexually violent behavior towards women

Sexual assault can happen at anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, it can happen with the people we trust the most. That’s why it may seem difficult to prevent sexual assault, however, there’s hope. With the right tools, knowledge, and education, we all can work towards ways to prevent sexual assault.

While your community may not have comprehensive training programs to provide education for sexual assault prevention, there are still steps you can take as an individual to help prevent sexual assault. 

Educate– Education goes a long way. Did you know approximately 90 % of sexual assault attacks is by a trusted friend, family member or even a spouse. If you have children, educate both boys and girls on what it means to respect someone’s personal space.

Be aware- We live in a fast-paced society where your life can change in the blink of an eye. Whether you are going for a morning run or a daily cup of coffee, be aware of your surroundings. Not only should you look for emergency exits or alternative routes, you should also look for any suspicious activity in your area.  If you notice anything out of the ordinary, notify your local law enforcement right away 

Be an active bystander– If you see a situation about to escalate, safely intervene and get you and whoever is in need to safety quickly. 

Be involved in your community– When you become involved in community events, you are more likely to have information that can help save your life. For example, you may have a local neighborhood watch group that informs you of potential threats in your area.  Or your community may have a list of registered sex offenders that may live/dwell in your neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Training- While most sexual assault prevention programs focus on victim safety, there are a few that focus on perpetrator prevention. That’s why it’s imperative to either implement or enroll in a comprehensive training program that teaches individuals skills to prevent sexual assault from happening.

When it comes to preventing sexual assault, we can all do our part.  Whether you are helping a friend, implementing a training program, or being an active By Stander, your help goes along way.  What are some other ways you feel sexual assault can be prevented? Post your comments in the comment box below.

If you are someone you love need help, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

 

Photo Courtesy of http://freedigitalphotos.net