Refresher on sexual assault: International Women’s Day

This post is purely for educational purposes and can be triggering for some. For more information please visit Moreover, victims of sexual violence can call the 24/7 hotline at (800) 656-4673. Statistics have been obtained by RAINN.

Today is International Women’s Day. In honor of this day I am providing information about the rights women have to their bodies, the common effects of sexual assault, and important statistics.

Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Sexual violence is against the law, it is a crime and is never the victim’s fault.

It is a tragic fact that women and girls experience sexual violence at much higher rates than men. 1 in every 6 women are victims of sexual violence or attempted sexual violence. In comparison, 1 in 10 men are victims of sexual violence.

A person has the final say about what happens with their bodies. It is against the law to engage in sexual contact or behavior without explicit consent of a partner.

According to RAINN, “Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity… [Consent] should happen every time. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact.”

In sum, consent lets someone know that sexual activity is wanted. Sexual activity without consent is rape or sexual assault.

Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, which includes physical force, emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation. Moreover, consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Younger women are “especially at risk” for sexual violence.

These statistics are shocking. But what can be even more shocking is that a person is more likely to be assaulted by someone the victim knows and trusts, such as a friend, family member, or significant other. 8 out of every 10 assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

According to RAINN, “84% of survivors who were victimized by an intimate partner experience professional or emotional issues, including moderate to severe distress, or increased problems at work or school.”

A victim has an increased likelihood of suicidal or depressive thoughts after sexual violence. Moreover, victims are likely to experience Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within two weeks following the event.

Sexual violence can also have devastating effects on the day-to-day lives of victims.

According to RAINN,

  • “38% of victims of sexual violence experience work or school problems, which can include significant problems with a boss, coworker, or peer.
  • 37% experience family/friend problems, including getting into arguments more frequently than before, not feeling able to trust their family/friends, or not feeling as close to them as before the crime.

If you or someone you know has experienced this type of violence, you’re not alone, and help is available. Victims who are dealing with post-traumatic symptoms can find access to local providers here.

Moreover, a victim of sexual violence can bring criminal and/or civil action against the perpetrator if they desire to do so.

Criminal action would be done through contacting a police precinct. Civil action would be carried out through contacting a personal injury law firm.

This guide from RAINN can provide you with the legal definition of rape in your state and the statute of limitations for a particular sex crime.