The amount of courage required to talk about surviving sexual assault is hardly possible to put into words. The amount of courage required simply to survive a sexual assault is similarly hard to fathom. If you are here reading this page, there is a strong possibility that you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual assault.
Words alone are unlikely to provide comfort, but we believe you. It is not your fault. And we are here to listen.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. That is every 68 seconds every day.
What Constitutes “Sexual Assault”
When people hear or think about the phrase “sexual assault,” they have a very narrow view of what constitutes the heinous crime. While rape is a form of sexual assault, a survivor of sexual assault does not necessarily have to be someone who was raped.
Many forms of sexual abuse go unreported because the survivor does not feel as though, know, or want to believe they were sexually assaulted simply because they were not raped.
As mentioned, it requires an incredible amount of courage just to survive the crime.
A “sexual assault” is any form of nonconsensual or unwanted sexual contact or exposure.
The following list includes common types of sexual assault, but it is not exhaustive:
- Child sexual abuse
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual harassment
Effects of Sexual Assault on Survivors
Surviving sexual assault can have long-lasting and deleterious effects on an individual’s psyche and mental health. Even if a survivor does not report a sexual assault to the authorities, seeking help and care to deal with the trauma is of the utmost importance.
Common mental health factors to be careful of include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of self-esteem
- Suicidal ideations
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual assault, please seek both medical and mental health care above all else.
Prevalence of Sexual Assault in the United States
Despite the continued progress of the MeToo movement, Every 68 Seconds Project, and RAINN, the epidemic of sexual abuse persists in the United States.
Over the last decade, high-profile cases have gone to trial where juries arrived at guilty verdicts in favor of the survivors of sexual assault:
- Harvey Weinstein convicted of several sex crimes in Los Angeles.
- R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking.
- Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky is convicted of sexually assaulting minors at summer camp.
- The U.S. Gymnastics Team scandal exposes College and Olympic team cover-up.
- Bill Cosby is convicted and sentenced to jail.
- BackPage sex traffic website operators are arrested and criminally charged.
- Southern California University OBGYN exposed for abusing hundreds of students.
- Pennsylvania grand jury finds over 1,000 Catholic churchgoers were sexually abused.
But these verdicts are simply a drop in the bucket. How many years and decades did the likes of Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky, R. Kelly, and Harvey Weinstein get away with grooming and abusing children, minors, and vulnerable people who looked up to them?
How many hundreds or thousands of years have the Catholic Church and other longstanding religious organizations hidden sexual abuse by their clergies and other officials?
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that annual emergency room (ER) visits for sexual assault survivors in the United States had increased 1,533% between 2006 and 2019.
Ultimately and unfortunately, a sexual abuser is not convicted or even preliminarily arrested for their crimes every 68 seconds.
Sexual Abusers Violate Relationships of Trust
Often, the abuser is a trusted person: a boss, camp counselor, daycare provider, doctor, family member, priest, or teacher, et cetera. Perpetrators of sexual assault take advantage of their standing and positions of power to prey upon the young and vulnerable.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 74% of adolescent survivors of abuse were sexually assaulted by someone they knew. Of those, one-in-five had been sexually assaulted by a family member.
These statistics help to explain why RAINN found that 55% of sexual assaults occur at or near survivors’ homes.
People tend to go to churches/places of worship, doctors’ offices, and schools near their homes, thus making it more likely that, should someone encounter a sex abuser, the offense would happen close to home.
That said, “vulnerable” does not exclusively mean “young.” As reported by the Department of Justice, the majority of the sexual assault survivors over the age of 12, were between the ages of 18 and 34 years old (54%).
Unfortunately, the epidemic of sexual abuse is not new. For too long, far too many individual organizations, the government, and long-standing institutions have failed our most vulnerable citizens and survivors.
It is not your fault. We believe you. And you have a right to be heard and seek justice.
Legal Representation For Survivors Of Sexual Abuse
If you or a loved one has survived sexual abuse, contact The Yost Legal Group whenever you are ready. Our number is 1-800-YOST-LAW. Our experienced sexual abuse survivor attorneys are here to listen and here to help. You have a right to justice.