With April serving as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we’re here to help you understand what sexual assault is, who is at risk, warning signs, and how we are here for you.
What is sexual assault?
While sexual assault may take many forms, it is never anyone but the abusers fault. Per the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault refers to any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. This can include rape, attempted rape, fondling, unwanted touching, and even forcing an individual to perform sexual acts.
Who is at risk for sexual assault?
Every 92 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted—and every 9 minutes, that person is a child.
In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. In 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.
It happens in every state, every city, and every town. It can happen at work, at school, and even within our own homes. The reality of sexual assault is that everyone can be at risk.
Tragically, it estimated that 3 out of 4 cases of sexual assault go unreported for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- The individual experiencing sexual violence fears retaliation
- The individual experiencing sexual violence feels it is not important enough to report
- The individual experiencing sexual violence doesn’t believe anything can be done to help
It’s important for us to talk about the signs of sexual assault and who is at risk in order to remove social stigmas of shame and fear so victims can feel safe coming forward.
What are the warning signs?
Brother. Barista. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Doctor. Cousin. Aunt. Professor.
No matter your relationship with an individual, the people you come into contact with can be impacted by your understanding in the warning signs associated with sexual assault. Begin with building empathy towards others and practice this in your daily lives, knowing that every individuals signs may be different and that warning signs for sexual assault can be associated with other events happening in their lives.
If you believe a loved one may have been sexual assaulted, asked questions that reference a time and reaffirm that you will believe them when they are ready to speak about it (EX: Did something happen at the party you attended the other night?”).
Indicators in Adults May Include
Poor Body Image
Indicators in Children May Include
Overly Compliant Behavior
Inability to Concentrate
Sophisticated Understanding of Sexual Behavior
Persistent & Inappropriate Sexual Play
Changes in Appetite
Deteriorating Relationships w/Peers
You Can Make A Difference
If someone tells you they’re experiencing/have experienced sexual violence, we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgmental as possible. Supportive, empathetic statements can bring the survivor a sense of relief and comfort as they allow you to continue supporting them. Practice utilizing such phrases to reaffirm that you hear and believe them.
Supportive Phrases May Include
|I believe You.|
|It took a lot of courage to tell me this.|
|This is not your fault.|
|You did not do anything to deserve this.|
|You are not alone.|
|I care about you and am here to listen or help any way that I can.|
|I am sorry this happened.|
|This should not have happened.|
For more information regarding sexual assault, explore the following articles from Albion: Consent: It Isn’t Rocket Science, Shifting Conversations From Victim-Blaming to Social Change, & Talking to Your Children About Sexual Assault
Albion’s advocates are available to work with individuals experiencing sexual violence & their loved ones. Call us today at 812-422-9372 and know that you are not alone.
For national resources, we recommend National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673) and rainn.org.
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Gabriella Federico is an advocate and guest blogger with Albion Fellows Bacon Center. Throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month, she and the team at Total Quality Logistics Evansville are partnering with Albion to bring help and hope to locals experiencing sexual and domestic violence. Their #TQLStands Against Sexual Assault project is currently looking for local businesses to participate in allowing them to hang resource flyers in their facility.
If you are interested in helping them create hope, contact Gabriella at 270-577-1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to their list.