Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Words make it visible."

       In a study conducted by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found 1 in 5 American women and 1 in 15 American men have been victims of sexual assault.

      Sexual assault isn't a topic most Americans want to discuss. We must. As the statistics above indicate, you or someone close to you has likely been the victim of sexual violence. In many areas of the world male and female rape victims are stigmatized by their own cultures. The victims of sexual assault are shunned or made to feel more blame or shame than the actual perpetrators. Recently, a well known celebrity went on a Twitter rant discussing school girl dress codes and provocative clothing. Her comments were lambasted by teachers, news organizations, law enforcement, men and women of all ages and backgrounds clearly revealing the majority of adults in the United States understand that no matter what a young women wears on her body she is not responsible for the sexual urges or inappropriate actions of grown men. To even suggest that children or teenagers are inciting their own sexual assault or abuse is disgusting and stunningly ignorant. Rape is about power and control, not sex. Shaming is a barbaric tactic used to keep victims silent. But the Twitter rant did ignite a conversation and words make this crime visible. 

       Rape is a violent act. Rape is a violation of ones own body. In the United States rape is a serious crime punishable by law. Statistics on sexual assault can often be misleading because many assaults go unreported. Why?  More than 60 % of assaults are committed by people known or trusted by the victim. April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Turning the spotlight on the crime of sexual assault is critical because rape is a public health problem not just a moral or ethical issue. Survivors of sexual assault can contract diseases or even become pregnant. All survivors of such a violent crime, especially those who may become pregnant from their assault have the right to any and all mental and physical health care assistance. Education and awareness is only the first step to reducing violent, criminal behaviors. Let's keep the conversation going. 

Photo credit of "Desert Dweller"- Cori Storb

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