Dr. Ducharme’s Blog: April 15, 2019 April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 15, 2019
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I am always fascinated by what each month is designated to celebrate. April, like most months is designated for numerous causes. One of them is Sexual Assault Awareness. It was first established in April 2001. Given the recent publicity about sexual assaults and the #metoo movement I felt it was an appropriate topic for this week’s blog.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that:

Sexual Assault in the United States

One in 5 women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives

In the U.S., one in 3 women and one in 6 men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime

51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance

52.4% of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger

Almost half (49.5%) of multiracial women and over 45% of American Indian/Alaska Native women were subjected to some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime

91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and nine percent are male

In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator

Eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is at work

 

The costs are staggering. The lifetime cost of rape per victim is $122,461. Annually rape costs the U.S. more than any other crime including murder and drunk driving. Health care is 16% higher for women who were sexually abused as children and 36% higher for women who were physically and sexually abused as children. Women who have been sexually assaulted report increased autoimmune disorders than non abused women. The health statistics for men are more difficult to establish since men tend to see doctors less frequently than women.

 

We are also living in confusing times, especially for men. Times are changing. Certain behaviors by men in the 1960’s are no longer seen as acceptable by many. On college campuses across the country, young men and women frequently “hook up” for sex with multiple partners. Although this may feel like freedom for some, the responsibilities that go along with this kind of behavior are many. Both men and women need to be aware of what true consent means.

 

There is a video on YouTube called Tea and Consent that does an excellent job at explaining consent. I think we all need to watch it. Here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ&feature=youtu.be

 

Although we may never eliminate sexual assault, we can do a far better job of teaching our young men and women what is appropriate and how to protect themselves. While it is very clear that most rapes are committed by men on women, and that rape is always the fault of the perpetrator we also have to help women learn how to stay safe and not put themselves in very risky situations.

 

I have spent my entire career working with victims of sexual assault. I have seen the devastating effects of this crime on both children and adults. As we approach the holidays of Passover and Easter my hopes and prayers are that we, as a society can learn how to treat each other with dignity and respect, communicate openly and assertively and work towards a more peaceful world.