Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Every 73 seconds, a person in the United States is sexually assaulted. Every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.

These startling statistics calls attention to Sexual Assault Awareness Month, recognized annually in April. Sexual violence is defined as unwanted sexual activity, where consent is not obtained or freely given. It includes rape (forcible and nonforcible) and other sexual assaults including unwanted touching of sexual body parts, voyeurism, harassment, or other noncontact abuse.

According to a 2009 report conducted by the University of Iowa and partners, the cost of sexual violence against a child was $194,238 per event. For adults, the cost of rape was $137,486 per incident (adults had lower mental health care costs, less quality of life loss, and were less likely to incur expenses related to substance abuse or suicidal behaviors than children who are victimized by sexual violence). The highest incidence of sexual violence occurred in women ages 18-44; the next highest rate was girls ages 13 to 17. Overall, 1 in 120 Iowa children under age 18 and 1 in every 96 adults was victimized by sexual violence (2009).

Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2020 is like no other has been – the extreme measures required for Covid-19 infection control can lead to significant social, economic, and psychological consequences. And a relevant, yet sometimes unnoticed risk during a pandemic and its social disruption, is the potential increase in intimate partner violence.

Our social distancing causes isolation, exposes vulnerability, and limits familiar or accessible support options. Unemployment has devastating economic effects, and may deprive people of health care benefits. Stress, frustration, anger, anxiety, PTSD, and depression are exacerbated. Research tells us that the longer the quarantine, the greater the chance for serious psychological consequences.

Chrysalis priorities include security, which we define as mental, emotional, physical, financial, and behavioral well-being; positive connections with others; resilience, hardiness, and self-worth; and hope/plan for the future. Somewhat similar to the term “wellness,” which includes the following elements:

Physical: A healthy body through exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc.

Mental: Engagement with the world through learning, problem-solving, creativity, etc.

Emotional: Being in touch with, aware of, accepting of, and able to express one’s feelings (and those of others).

Spiritual: Our search for meaning and purpose in human existence.

Social: Connecting with, interacting with, and contributing to other people and our communities.

Environmental: A healthy physical environment free of hazards; awareness of the role we play in bettering rather than denigrating the natural environment.