April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
Why do we want to make you aware of this? It’s because, unfortunately, sexual assault is more widespread today than heart disease.
In a 2003 National Victims of Crime report, “it is estimated that 13.4 percent of adult women have been victims of one or more completed forcible rapes during their lifetime.”
The impact of sexual assault is enormous. Survivors have a higher incidence of depression and substance abuse than the average woman.
But it’s not just a problem for women. In a 1998 National Institute of Justice report, it stated 92,700 men are forcibly raped each year.
What can we do? Here’re some suggestions.
- Sexual assault is, amongst many things, a betrayal of trust, so if a victim discloses to you, believe him or her. The moment of disclosure can potentially be a moment of healing if the victim is believed.
- For men? Challenge sexist comments that degrade women. And “no” means “no.”
- Educate yourself about sexual violence. There are 33 Rape Crisis Centers in Illinois. They would be happy to teach about this issue so you can be a more effective advocate.
- Support your local rape crisis center. They need volunteers and they will train you. Give money to them. Tell your legislators you support funding their services.
We are far from eradicating sexual violence in our communities. We need all of your help to do that. Let the month of April mark your personal commitment toward contributing to the solution.
Jim Huenink – Northwest CASA | Arlington Heights