April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month. Did you know that? I didn’t, until Suzie retweeted a post at FairyBurger called ‘Sexual Violence’. Since I consider myself socially aware, that bothers me – I mean, we see all sorts of things on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Instagram every day … why does THIS important issue get so little visibility?

Sexual Violence Awareness Month

The focus of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center campaign for 2015 is ‘campus sexual violence prevention’. There is WAY too much data and evidence of the incidence and impact of sexual violence in our society. As I have a child who will be heading off to college in the fall, and I worry all of the time about his safety and well being.

For young kids in college the possibility of sexual violence during this vulnerable time is all too real. While they are technically adults, for many this is the first experience away from home as an independent person, and that reality can come with some awful consequences.

From the FairyBurger post:

Sexual Violence At A Glance

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives (Black et al., 2011).
  • 20–25% of college women and 15% of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college. (Cullen et al., 2000)
  • More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. (Fisher et al., 2000)
  • 81% of women and 35% of men report significant short- or long-term impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Black et al, 2011)
  • In 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator. (Miller et al., 1996)
  • Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. (Rennison, 2002)
  • The prevalence of false reporting is low, between 2% and 10%. For example, a study of eight U.S. communities, which included 2,059 cases of sexual assault, found a 7.1% rate of false reports. (Lonsway et al., 2009)

On April 1st President Obama shared a statement regarding the month:

Nearly one in five women in America has been a victim of rape or attempted rape. Every year, too many women and too many men are sexually assaulted and abused. This is an affront to our basic decency and humanity, and it must end. Sexual assault harms our communities, weakens the foundation of our Nation, and hurts those we love most. For survivors, the awful pain can take years to heal — sometimes it never does. When an individual’s possibilities are limited by the scars of violence and abuse, our country is deprived of enormous potential. Sexual assault takes a collective toll on all of us, and it is everyone’s responsibility not only to speak out, but also to take action against this injustice.

And he concludes by saying:

I urge all Americans to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.

You can get more information about the National Sexual Violence Resource Center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

One of my best running blogger buddies Laura is working towards her PhD in Women’s Studies, and is undertaking a huge goal – a Cross Country run to raise awareness of the impact of sexual violence. The run happens in 2016 and you can follow along here.

I wrote about this last year, highlighting many articles that seemed to keep popping up in my feed of what women runners had to endure because they were women … who were running. Far beyond lewd catcalls, they are tales of groping and grabbing and stalking – and we’ve all read about female runners who were murdered!

I noted my own experience being cat-called, saying that while it resembles what women experience in a superficial way, in reality it is critically different:

I have absolutely no real concern of being physically sexually assaulted. I know it happens, but it is so small compared to the likely hood of a woman being assaulted – even killed – for no more than being a woman out for a run. It is disgusting.

This behavior is unacceptable

Regardless of where you fall on social justice issues or the political spectrum, this seems like a topic we can all agree upon – we need to make sexual violence history and make all of the kids who head to class in the fall feel safe. And all of the people in airports, walking down streets, going to conferences and meetings and grocery shopping … and even just heading to their car after work.

I long for the day that I no longer feel the need to talk about this issue.

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12 thoughts on “April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month

  1. It is a shame that this is a topic that too often gets swept under the rug. I think it makes people uncomfortable and we often assume “she was asking for it.” That is never an excuse. Education and sex education are key in my opinion. Not talking about sex in high school isn’t going to keep people from having sex and it is only helping young adults make smart decisions. That includes knowing what to do in college if you are at a party and drinking (because yes young adults do drink underage) and knowing potential risks.

    • Absolutely agree – and study after study show that comprehensive sex ed has the *opposite* effect that religious conservatives feared – by trusting the kids with *information* rather than forcing them to find out themselves, teen sex and pregnancy and STD’s actually go down.

      I can only hope that the growing trend among kids to note the meaning of ‘consent’ really takes hold. We’ve talked about it with our kids – the problems are very often not the kids but the parents when it comes to attitudes and limiting information.

      And you’re right about drinking and control – it is really hard to teach this stuff, but important for them to know.

      • I get that its a fine line and now that we are expecting it scares the heck out of me to think about how we will approach all of this. But I do know that being informed kept me from doing a lot of things. Knowing about sex and the reality actually had the reverse effect and made me wait and I am so grateful for that. The reality is, a lot of kids aren’t going to get this from home, so let’s educate. Sometimes we don’t give them enough credit. We teach about the dangers of cigarettes but I don’t hear anyone saying, “Oh no don’t tell the kids about smoking. They will just want to do it.”

  2. Thank you for sharing my post! I really like the points you mentioned in here. One of my soapboxes is the lack of sex education in schools–I don’t understand how people really believe that not talking about something will mean that it won’t happen–it just leads to higher rates of STDs and teen pregnancies because they don’t know any better. The “she was just asking for it” rationale also really upsets me. People need to understand that this is absolutely not okay.

    • Thanks for the post Farrah! And I totally agree with everything … and it does astound me that all too often ‘sexual violence prevention’ education basically comes down to telling girls how not to dress. Ugh. Can we not raise the expectations and accountability on boys/men?

  3. Working in the public health field for a while I found it so sad this topic was swept under a lot of the time. It’s great you are bringing awareness to such an important topic. Thank you.

    • Hey Newlywed! Surprised to see you here – then read you guys were taking a couple of days in between. Thanks for the comment – I really think that it is important that we do what we can.

  4. It’s really sad that this topic, which is so critical, does not garner the attention it deserves. The things we as a country focus on (like the color of a dress) makes me really angry sometimes. We need to prioritize education across the board with our kids/teens, talk to them about these issues, discuss them like we would their day at school at the dinner table and stop sweeping “dirty little issues” like this under the rug if we want to make real progress. Thank you for bringing attention to this Mike!!

    • Like the pregnant weather-person who got loads of hate-mail about her wardrobe? Ugh not again! I remember a few months ago a news anchor revealed he had worn the same suit ALL YEAR last year … and not ONE person noticed or commented. And that is just superficial stuff …

      Some of the comments on the recent story about the girl sent home for ‘inappropriate dress’ bothered me because it made it very clear that the situation, rules and interpretation was much more about middle-aged men leering at high school girl’s bodies than about anything of substance. Blech.

    • King David didn't do anything immoral. Wasn't it inireprettng the Torah in a literal fashion that got messed up religions like Islam started? While King David may have appeared to have been rebuked, most commentators hold that he didn't sin, just like Reuvain didn't sleep with his father's wife.

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