Most sexual assaults go unreported
Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part series to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month and increase awareness of sex crimes at the international, national, state and local levels. The articles will appear each week throughout April.
Sexual assault, including incest, rape, attempted rape and sexual harassment, happens in every community. Although anyone can be a victim, regardless of gender, age, race or sexual orientation, children and women are most often victims. They can be haunted by the abuse for years.
The vast majority of sexual assault survivors do not report the crime because they blame themselves, think no one will believe them or are afraid of retaliation. Each year approximately 130,000 women in the United States report a rape or attempted race, while nine out of every 10 rapes go unreported. Young women age 16 through 19 are more than twice as likely as any other age group to be victims of rape or sexual assault.
Although some people assume a “typical” rapist is a crazy man hiding in the bushes waiting for his next victim, more than 60 percent of reported rapes last year were perpetrated by a date or acquaintance. According to some studies more than 1 million women are forcibly raped by their current or former male partners each year. Few report the rape because they are caught in a vicious cycle of abuse.
Research has found more than 1 million children are exploited through child pornography and prostitution every year. Child molesters often use pornography to groom a child for sexual abuse. Through the use of pornography they accustom the child to keeping secrets and playing special “games,” often reenactments of the pornographic images.
A majority of prostitutes were sexually abused as children. After entering prostitution many continue to be raped. Few seek assistance from a rape crisis center or report the rapes to laws enforcement.
Although violence is a serious problem for prostitutes, some studies show no higher incidence of violence and abuse among this population than women in general. In other words, mom, daughters and sisters face the same risk of being victimized as prostitutes.
Contact the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center at (530) 544-2118 or visit our office at 2941 Lake Tahoe Blvd. The South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center building is financed by a low-cost loan through the Rural Community Assistance Corporation.
– Amy Stacy is an outreach advocate at the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.