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Sexual Assault Statistics and Prevention

Sexual assault remains a very complex and complicated crime. In many cases the victims have a difficult time proving their case and many times it boils down to one person's word against another's. For this reason combined with the physical and mental abuse suffered; crimes like rape continue to go largely unreported. The victim in these crimes is often too afraid to pursue criminal charges. Nearly all victims are female and nearly all offenders are male. Often, the victim knows or is an acquaintance of the offender. Sometimes they even share the same group of friends or know the same people. The victim is often intimidated by thoughts like: What will my friends and family think? What if they don't believe me? Did I do something to provoke or initiate this? Another factor involved in many sexual assaults involves drugs. More and more rape cases (date rape) are the result of the victim being "drugged" by substances like GHB, Rohypenol, and Klonopin. The end result is that memory is effected. The victim knows they were raped or violated, but can't remember what happened. To make matters worse the "detection life" of these drugs are very short, so if 24 hours passes the likelihood of a positive test is slim to none. The U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, defines rape and sexual assault as follows. Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including both psychological coercion and physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object such as a bottle. Also included are attempted rapes, male and female victims, and heterosexual and homosexual rape. Sexual assault covers a wide range of victimization's, distinct from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include completed or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between the victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats. The non profit organization Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) advises that it is important to remember that each state has different laws and legal definitions regarding rape and sexual assault which may be somewhat different than the ones provided by the Justice Department. Some important statistics to note regarding sexual assault/rape are:
  • In 2006, there were 272,350 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assaults according to the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey. These numbers do not include victims under the age of 12.
  • Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
  • One in six American women are victims of sexual assault, and one in 33 men.
  • About 44 percent of rape victims are under age 18, and 80 percent are under age 30.
  • In about two-thirds of all rape cases, the victim knows the assailant.
  • The criminal profile of rapists tend to be very similar. According to a Dept. of Justice report "Sex Offenses And Offenders," there is a "remarkable similarity" among rapists: 99 in 100 are male; six in 10 are white; and the average age is the early 30s.
  • Sexual assault offenders are substantially more likely than any other category of offender to have experienced physical or sexual abuse while growing up.
  • About 7 percent of rapes involved the use of a weapon; 2 percent used a gun; 4 percent used a knife.
These statistics are very real but there are certain behaviors that will reduce the risk of becoming the victim of sexual assault.
  • Never, never leave a drink/beverage unattended. No exceptions. If you happen to take your eyes off of a drink pour it out and get a new one.
  • Don't accept a drink from an open container.
  • When you go out or to a party do so with a group of friends. Strength in numbers. Arrive together, look out for each other, and leave together. Again no exceptions
  • Embrace awareness. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. If a situation doesn't feel right trust your gut.
  • Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don't know or trust.
  • Think about the level of intimacy you want in a relationship, and clearly state your limits.
  • Consider carrying a self defense product such as pepper spray. Pepper spray is extremely effective and available in disguise.
If you are the victim of rape you should seek a safe place, such as a friend or family members home and get medical attention as soon as possible. It is crucial to preserve as much potential evidence as possible by not taking a bath. Try and write down, in as much detail as possible, everything while it is still fresh in the mind. If you were the victim of a sex crime contact The National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, for free, confidential counseling, 24 hours a day: 1-800-656-HOPE.
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