Information about sexual abuse statistics is hard to obtain because it is believed that many—possibly as high as 80%—of all assaults go unreported. Victims may not report the violence because of fear, they may feel embarrassed, feel as though they caused the attack to happen, or they may be physically unable to report an attack. Here are some FAQ’s about sexual assault.
Who may be at risk of sexual assault?
No one is safe from the possibility of becoming a victim. According to the Department of Justice and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men report being the victim of a rape or an attempted rape. It is estimated that 8 - 20% of children have been victimized. People between the ages of 12 – 34 are at the highest risk by age. Native Americans are twice as likely as the general population to have been sexually assaulted. And transgender students are also at very high risk with 21% of transgender college students reporting an assault.
Assault victims may or may not know their attacker. Often the perpetrator of the assault is known to the victim. The attacker may be a family member, a current or previous partner, a neighbor, or coworker.
What could happen emotionally to a victim?
Sexual violence has long term effects. 94% of assaulted women report symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many think about suicide and about 13% attempt it. Many assault victims have problems with their relationships and have trouble at work or school. There is a high rate of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and other drug use and abuse among survivors.
How can we work to prevent sexual assault?
To help prevent sexual violence, parents are advised to be involved with their children, to show interest in their day to day lives, know the people involved in their lives, and help children to identify “safe” people in the neighborhood.
Adults are advised to be aware of their surroundings, use security to walk them to their car if necessary, be careful when using alcohol or drugs, have a “buddy” system to stay safe when going out, never pick up hitchhikers, do not stop to help strangers but rather call 911 to help them, and to be careful about making personal contact with people met online.
Help is available for victims of sexual assault. To reach the nearest counseling center call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-HOPE and press 1. In the Toledo area people can also call The YWCA Rape Crisis Hotline 419-241-7273.