Sexual Assault Awareness Month, 2019

The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to support survivors and raise awareness around the issue and prevalence of sexual assault. Nearly one in five women report being sexually assaulted during their lifetime, while one in 71 men report the same, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). 

The impact sexual assault has on survivors and their loved ones is immense. Sexual assault often leads to guilt, shame and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The NSVRC estimates that survivors lose over $100,000 in healthcare costs and criminal justice issues, and an additional quarter of a million dollars in lost wages.

Sexual assault especially impacts the most marginalized among us. Over 50 percent of bisexual women report being sexually assaulted. 50 percent of the trans community reports being assaulted, according to a 2015 report on sexual assault by the University of Michigan. 

The way we treat sexual assault survivors in this country is nothing short of appalling. One need only look at how prominent survivors such as Christine Blasey Ford and Terry Crews were crucified in the court of public opinion.

To better address the sexual assault epidemic in this country, we must collectively take action. Solving the problem won’t be easy, but is necessary and worth doing. Believing survivors is an important first step, as is offering them support and resources to recover and so they can live full, healthy lives. Prosecuting offenders to the fullest extent of the law is absolutely imperative, as is promoting a culture where sexual assault is never acceptable and no perpetrator is given a pass.

Together, we can end sexual assault once and for all.

~The Suffolk Journal Staff