Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

In the United States, April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Acknowledgement that this occurs, however, doesn’t begin to identify the prevalence of this menace, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 annual report on women in the United States documents:

  • 1 in 5 has been raped during her lifetime
  • 1 in 3 has experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner
  • 28% have experienced unwanted sexual contact
  • 1 in 6 has experienced stalking
  • 1 in 4 has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner
  • 1 in 3 rape victims was raped as a teen, and 1 in 8 before she was 10 years old

Although sexual violence most frequently happens to females, more than 1 in 4 men report experiencing sexual violence involving physical contact during his lifetime, and 1 in 38 men has experienced rape.

In recent years, technology as enabled online sexting, posting nude photos, stalking, and harassment to become common methods of sexual assault, and statistics suggest an increase in victimization due to the isolation of the pandemic.

Sexual violence is a longstanding public health problem; its impact on lifelong health, well-being, and future opportunities can be profound. In addition to physical injury, sexually-transmitted disease, and unwanted pregnancy, victims can experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and additional mental and emotional health challenges.

The economic cost of sexual violence can be enormous. For example, a 2009 report published by the University of Iowa and its partners found that the cost of just one incident of sexual violence was $137,486 for an adult, and for a child, $194,238 based on medical costs, ongoing treatment, lost work, and lost quality of life. Collectively, the report notes the total cost in 2009 to Iowans exceeded $5.8 billion.

For decades, we’ve responded to sexual violence through reports to law enforcement, medical exams, and counseling, and our prevention work involves countless hours of public awareness, training, and media and policy advocacy. And the ripple effect of speaking out about sexual abuse by powerful individuals, including #MeToo and #TimesUp, have shifted our culture from silence to the demand for accountability.

Sexual violence can be prevented; for example, a Canadian study of teen dating violence suggests that for every dollar invested in prevention, between $32 and $53 are saved in remedial services, social assistance, and avoiding the criminal justice system.

Chrysalis invests about a dollar a day ($365) in our after-school programs, all focused on preparing girls and young women for a future free from violence. We believe it’s the best investment we can make.