We’re down to the last days of April, and with that comes the end of the month-long campaign toward sexual assault awareness. Studies have revealed the we do live in a misogynistic society, but have provided pointers to guide us toward equal treatment. Bars across the country have implemented initiatives to help people get out of threatening environments. Even celebrities like Lady Gaga and Viola Davis have come forward to share their traumatic experiences. Clearly we’re making strides toward the better treatment of women, but we still have a long way to go.
We’ve all heard the statistics: Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. One in six women has been the victim of rape. To make matters worse, 994 perpetrators out of 1,000 rape cases walk free. (That’s not to say only women are victims; in fact, about 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.)
It’s also not uncommon to hear about sexual assaults committed by someone the victim knows. With 27% of incidents carried out by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s harrowing to learn that someone to whom you’ve given your trust is capable of causing you physical and psychological harm.
And inevitably, the horror continues. Depression, flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder can plague any person who’s survived sexual assault. They can even deliberately hurt themselves, spiral into substance abuse and at worse, attempt or commit suicide.
Sexual assault and abuse doesn’t discriminate—it can happen to anyone at any age, of any race, at any time. Although another year will pass until the monthly awareness movement is resuscitated, we should never stop advocating for survivors, who need to know they’re not alone in these trying times. The healing process begins with dialogue, and by continuing the conversation, we’re demanding their stories be heard.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org for confidential support.