Today’s content may be triggering for some audiences. I encourage you to read through and educate yourself about sexual assault but please do so at your own risk. Feel free to browse the menu bar above for lighter content.
I’m not shy about speaking out about sexual assault but it hasn’t always been this way. Speaking out about sexual assault is very close to my heart thanks in part to my personal experience with it and wanting to educate others so they don’t ever have to go through what I went through. It took me several years to get to this point but staying silent helps no one… and so here I am.
It’s #NOMORE Week
Domestic violence and sexual assault are real issues that impact us all. – NOMORE.org
We have one message: NO MORE. And the more we talk, the more we give, the more people we activate – the closer we get to NO MORE.
In this blog post I’m going to share signs of sexual assault (for the survivor), how to help (for friends and family of survivors) and also a few sexual assault facts and statistics.
Sexual Assault: Know the Signs
Some people may not even realize they’ve been sexually assaulted. It’s important to realize that sexual assault comes in many different forms and it’s not always like the violent rape scenes that you might see in movies. This can make survivors feel like what they experienced wasn’t “that bad”. All types of sexual assault ARE that bad and the effects and aftermath will likely be lifelong.
Here is how Webster’s Dictionary defines sexual assault:
: illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (as because of age or physical or mental incapacity) or who places the assailant (as a doctor) in a position of trust or authority
This is how NOMORE.org defines sexual assault:
Sexual assault is a crime motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm. Perpetrators use sexual assault as a weapon to hurt and dominate others. Sexual assault is forced or coerced sexual contact without consent. Consent is the presence of a clear yes, not the absence of a no.
It can take the form of:
- Child Sexual Abuse/Molestation
- Oral Sex
- Forcing a person to pose for sexual pictures
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching above and under clothing
- Force which may include but is not limited to:
- Use or display of a weapon
- Physical battering
- Immobilization of the victim
Responding to a Friend or Family Member
- How to Help, What to Say – via NOMORE.org
- 6 Steps to Supporting a Survivor – via Joyful Heart Foundation
- Know the Effects of Sexual Violence – via Rape Victim Advocates’
- How to Help While it’s Occurring – via NOMORE.org
- How to Help a Teenager Who’s Been Sexually Assaulted – via Lifting Makes Me Happy (me)
Facts/Myths and Statistics
*The statements in bold apply to me personally.
- 7 Myths and Facts – Sexual Abuse of Boys and Lasting Effects in Men – via 1in6.org
- Men Can Be Victims of Abuse, Too – via The National Domestic Abuse Hotline
- 22% of victims were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 32% were between the ages of 12 and 17.4 (I just turned 15) – via wcsap.org
- The majority of male and female rape victims knew their perpetrator – via Sexual Violence Survey
- An American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds – via RAINN.org
- 55% of sexual assaults happen in or near the victim’s home – via RAINN.org
- 3% of American men (or 1 in 33) have been involved with rape sometime in their lifetime – via RAINN.org
- Sexual violence has fallen by more than half since 1993 – via RAINN.org
- Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault – via nsopw.gov
These are some scary stats.
It does appear that things are definitely moving in the right direction but there is a lot of work left to do.
Open Letter from Evan Rachel Wood
I wanted to include the open letter from Evan Rachel Wood because of her brutal honesty. I could personally relate to every word she wrote and I know others will too.
I think it’s important for people to know that, for survivors to own that, and that the pressure to just get over it already, should be lifted. It will remind people of the damage that has been done and how the trauma of a few minutes can turn into a lifetime of fighting for yourself.
— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) November 28, 2016
Recommended Documentaries to Watch
Whether you’ve been personally sexually assaulted, you know somebody whose been sexually assaulted or you just want to know what the aftermath is like for survivors? I highly encourage you to watch Audrie and Daisy. I bawled like a baby. I honestly think it should be mandatory viewing in all high schools. I bet my parents would agree.
Audrie and Daisy
The words of our enemies aren’t as awful as the silence of our friends.
It Happened Here
It Happened Here exposes the alarming pervasiveness of sexual assault on college campuses, the institutional cover-ups and the failure to protect students, and follows their fight for accountability and change on campus and in federal court.
The Invisible War
The Invisible War is a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of our country’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within our US military. Today, a female soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire with the number of assaults in the last decade alone in the hundreds of thousands.
“You see a man get 5 years for drugs and 2 weeks for rape…”
For more information, support and ways to help, please also visit RAINN.org.
If you’re still reading… thank you.
My hope is that you are more equipped to help yourself or somebody you know whose been affected by sexual assault.
Stand with survivors.