PressPubs: April is national sexual assault awareness month

Sexual violence is an epidemic in our society that affects millions of women and men. It occurs among people of all races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, socioeconomic and age groups. Sexual violence is the use of sexual actions and words that are unwanted by and/or harmful to another person. Some of these actions are defined as crimes by Minnesota statutes. Some experiences of sexual violence are hurtful violations of personal boundaries but may not rise to the level of a crime. However, that does not diminish the victim’s experience of being harmed. Perpetrators are motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm.

The numbers are distressing:
• 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend.
• 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape.
• 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lives.
• 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.
• Nearly 86% of victims know the perpetrator.

We know that these numbers underestimate the problem because many victims do not tell the police, family, or friends about the violence. But these are not just numbers…they’re representative of our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, coworkers, neighbors and friends. So why isn’t there more conversation about sexual violence?

It is past time to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. We recognize that there are multiple causes of sexual violence some related to individual pathology of offenders, most related to a culture that in some ways supports, condones, or ignores sexually violent messages and/or behavior. Some call this a “rape culture” and point to exploitive images of women and children in the media, the status of women and children in our culture, and the assumption of sexual
availability of women, as examples of a “rape culture.” While it is impossible to agree on a single source for the cause of sexual violence, we can agree that this is a multidimensional issue that requires response on several fronts.

Read the full article here. By Tina Bronson Published 3/31/15 PressPubs

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