April marks the onset of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, making it a perfect opportunity for campus activists to bust some dangerous myths and misconceptions about the crime, many of which actively prevent victims from receiving the medical and psychological care they need to heal. Start out by educating classmates, faculty, and staff about the legal definitions of rape (remember to include the announced 2012 changes!) and sexual assault, then move on to the following essentials. All of these facts cover a wide range of information regarding the spectrum of sexual violence, from the verbal to the physical.
Far more organizations, governments, and schools recognize this fact than just the linked-up Marion County, Oregon. In reality, rape and sexual assault victims (who hail from every single demographic imaginable) could be wearing anything at all when the crime occurs; such atrocities are the result of power hunger rather than lust, and foisting the responsibility onto the victim only amplifies their trauma.
Of these, 79% of the men and 78% of the women expressed reticence when it came time to file complaints, meaning escalating numbers probably don’t indicate an increase in incidents so much as more willingness to report them. Females were most likely to cite discomfort as their primary reason for holding back (58%), whereas 60% of men thought sexual assault wasn’t significant enough to report.
According to the CDC surveys, at least. But dredging up definitive statistics on just how many men and boys have been raped and sexually assaulted proves a tricky venture, as the prevailing stigmas against victimhood mean so many feel too ashamed to report crimes. Because of this, males on the receiving end of the trauma face an increased risk of depression, self-harm, and substance abuse. Male sexual assault is most commonly found in prisons — according to a survey conducted by the Human Rights Watch, Texas has the highest rate of inmate-on-inmate assault but Nebraska ranks highest for staff-on-inmate assault.
Once again, though, the numbers might skew higher than that because of fear and victim-blaming. Compared to 0.9% of men, 2.5% of women reported sexual assault and rape occurred within the past 12 months.
Columbia University states that studies show around 30% of individuals suffering from eating disorders – mostly women – also experienced rape or sexual assault prior to the illness’ onset. Some of these estimate that a victim’s risk of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and/or EDNOS might actually double.
Every state recognizes this, although they tend to prosecute sexually violent husbands and wives differently than their unmarried equivalents. Only recently were the laws reworded to make sure the rights of victimized spouses were properly protected, however, and in many parts of the world marital rape and assault are still considered perfectly legal.
Prevailing myths painting rapists and sexual assailants as proverbial strangers jumping out of the bushes couldn’t be further from the reality. The vast majority of victims knew the criminals before the incident or incidents took place; friends and acquaintances were the most likely to commit the crime at a rate of 38%, followed by intimate partners (28%), and relatives (7%).
A further one out of five will be raped while attending college, and the statistics paint them as one of the most vulnerable groups to sexual victimization. Washington University alone ranked 12 in the most dangerous schools, with 22 counts of forced rape in addition to other crimes.
Whether out of ignorance for what legally constitutes rape and sexual assault or just not caring, this statistic is certainly a terrifying one. Especially since 35.5% of college students were victimized by a classmate – more than friends (34.2%), partners or exes (23.7%), and acquaintances (2.6%).
Thirty-five percent of college-age men said they would rape a woman if they were guaranteed no consequences
Even more disturbingly, one in five who did rape or sexually assault a female classmate cited a complete lack of self-control as their prime motivator. They admit they place their sexual urges over whether or not the victim in question wanted to take part.
Over 75% of college rapes and sexual assault involve intoxicants of some sort
Either present in the bloodstream of one or more of the involved parties, although victims are still not to blame. Many of these traumatic incidents occur when the man and/or woman on the receiving end wind up too drunk or drugged to fend off their attackers and give a definitive “NO!” when propositioned for sexual activity.
These reports may or may not come partnered with other forms of abuse, such as neglect or physical violence. Many of these victims were children with behavioral (3.9%) or emotional (3.2%) disabilities, with a further 5.2% suffering from some other medical condition – though the data doesn’t always reflect sexual abuse. Eighty-one point three percent of total incidents were perpetuated by a parent or a parent and an accomplice, with 37.2% involving just the mother, 19.1% involving just the father, and 18.5% involving both.
Statistics on exactly how prevalent the most popular date rape drugs truly are prove difficult to come by, though a study by Canada’s Coalition Against Violence shows ketamine, ecstasy, rohypnol (“roofies”), and GHB as those typically encountered. Rapists hoping to incapacitate their victims usually combine these with alcohol in order to increase their efficacy, though they can be ingested alone – even consensually – as well. Because victims fear judgment over having drugs and alcohol in their system, their hesitance to report the crime makes it difficult for lawmakers and healthcare providers to receive a clear picture of how far the problem extends.
Probably the major reason nobody can establish a tangible grasp on how wide date rape drugging spreads is how often they manage to stymie routine blood and urine tests. The National Drug Intelligence Center says the human body metabolizes the most common substances so quickly, the victims who have ingested them have usually already passed them by the time help arrives or a report is filed.
Tel Aviv University chemistry professors Fernando Patolsky and Michael Ioffe have made headway on a straw capable of detecting ketamine and GHB (with plans for rohypnol) in beverages thanks to a sophisticated censor. While not available commercially, this research certainly stands as an excellent building block helping to keep women and men both safe from sexual predators.
Known as Rape-aXe and designed by Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, the anti-rape device acts as a sort of condom with toothlike hooks trapping a penis, finger, tongue, or inanimate object used to violate a vaginal opening. Reactions to the invention have proven mixed, with many critics fearing it might enrage a perpetrator to the point of homicide. Regardless, this invention marks a significant step in technology’s role in rape and sexual assault prevention.
However, the U.S. Department of Justice’s statistics only report the victimization of individuals over the age of 12. Which unfortunately means the exact number of Americans reporting rape and sexual assaults is much higher than that.
RAINN’s took the Department of Justice’s findings and number-crunched them to discover that this means a sexual assault and rape take place roughly once every two minutes. Beyond American borders, the numbers fluctuate, of course, but every incident is a terrible, needless one.
One of the horrifying myths genuinely preventing victims from coming forward with their stories – and even reporting the crimes in question – paints them almost universally as liars out to get back at or something from the accused. This, in turn, denies them the justice, support, and treatment necessary to heal. In reality, 2008 saw only 5.8% of cases deemed “unfounded” by the FBI. Thanks to victim-blaming popular assumptions, verifiable cases of rape and sexual assault are considered heavily under reported.
Rape and attempted rape victims are the most likely to receive medical attention following an incident
Keep in mind that the numbers offered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics only cover female victims of sexual assault, rape, and attempted rape. Between 1992 and 2000, 45% of reported cases sought medical assistance, compared to only 22% of nonreported. Every single rape committed during that time frame resulted in mild to severe physical damage, as did 29% of attempted rapes and 17% of sexual assaults.
The National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and other government institutions recognize verbal abuse of a sexual nature as a form of sexual assault. While it obviously causes no physical damage and does not require the same intervention tactics as an incident that does, the feds still consider it a crime. Sexual violence exists along a spectrum of severity, with milder words on one end and the most horrifying examples of rape on the other. Purely verbal assaults can still result in extended mental and emotional trauma, however, and should be taken seriously.
Of these, 16.3% were filed by male employees, busting up myths that only women wind up victimized by workplace sexual harassment. These statistics come courtesy of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to the EEOC, people unable or unwilling to practice courtesy and discretion in the workplace wind up costing their employers (and themselves) obscene amounts of money. Funny enough, the statistics available don’t include monetary rewards that come about because of a lawsuit.
Sociologist Holly Kearl set about collecting the world’s first definitive data on street harassment, or verbal and physical sexual assault happening in a public space. Depending on the nation, anywhere between 80% to 100% of responding women said they had been followed, whistled at, groped, honked at, or received unwanted comments of a sexual nature. She also noted the psychological results of the incidents, which ranged from changing daily routes and moving to triggering traumatic memories of previous assaults and rapes.
Where to get help
Always call the police in the event of an emergency. Domestic violence and family shelters almost always accept rape and sexual assault victims who need a place to stay – and if they have no room on hand, will always point them in the direction of someone who does. The vast majority of colleges and universities also offer resources, and completely free counseling, for men and women traumatized by sexual violence. Be sure to know where and how they work and what services they provide. At the national level, RAINN and Take Back the Night are the two biggest organizations devoted to victim advocacy and sexual assault and rape prevention and care.