The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on prevention methods.
In the spirit of highlighting that sexual violence is a public health, human rights and social justice issue, this blog provides 10 facts about sexual assault and sexual violence.
1. The perpetrator of sexual assault is typically not a stranger. In fact, 3 out of 4 sexual assaults are committed by someone who knows the victim.
2. One out of every 6 women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape. Younger women (between 18-34) being at the highest risk for experiencing a sexual assault.
3. Men and boys are affected too. An unfortunate myth surrounding sexual assault, is that only women are victimized. This is simply not true. In fact, one out of every 10 rape victims are male. In effort to dispel another myth, sexual abuse of boys and men has nothing to do with an abuser’s or victim’s sexual orientation. Also, girls and women can and do perpetrate against boys and men.
4. Rape is the traumatic event that is most likely to lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many people experience traumatic events (assault, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters, etc) and recover from them such that they don’t continue to have symptoms that impair their lives. However, compared to every different type of trauma, rape is the even that is most likely to lead to the development of PTSD. One reason for this is that interpersonal trauma- or traumatic events that involve assault perpetrated by another person--- tend to have the most impact in how our thinking changes about ourselves and other people. Since humans are social creatures, this can have significant impact on how we function after a trauma like sexual assault.
5. Sexual assault survivors report high rates of substance use problems. Survivors of sexual assault are more likely to use alcohol and illicit substances than those that have not been assaulted.
6. Survivors of sexual assault suffer chronic health issues at higher rates. Sexual victimization has been found to be associated with gastrointestinal disorders, especially unexplained gastrointestinal distress, and a variety of chronic pain disorders (e.g., headaches, back pain).
7. Sexual assault in college campuses is an epidemic. Twenty percent of women and 6% of men are sexually assaulted while in college. In addition, research has found that 27% of college women have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact. Many college campuses do not have guidelines or infrastructure to address this problem.
8. Sexual assault in the military often goes unreported. There are many reasons for this including that many sexual assaults are perpetrated by people in positions of leadership.
9. Sexual violence has fallen by 50% in the last 20 years. This is excellent progress, and there is still a long way to go. Efforts by organizations like RAINN and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center are invaluable to helping these statistics continue to improve.
10. The psychological effects of sexual assault are treatable. For survivors of sexual assault and sexual violence, there are a range of wonderful treatments available depending on the person’s needs, difficulties and symptoms. If someone goes on to suffer from PTSD as a result of sexual assault, Cognitive Behavioral Therapies like Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy can effectively treat the symptoms for good.
Here at the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center of the Palm Beaches in Boca Raton, we are committed to timely and effective treatment for survivors of traumas and for those that develop trauma-related symptoms or PTSD as a result of sexual assault and other traumatic events. Please see our Trauma Recovery Program page for more information.
If you live in Boca Raton or in the greater Palm Beach County area and are looking for an expert Trauma Therapist or PTSD Psychologist, contact the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center of the Palm Beaches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (561) 299-0383.