It’s no secret that sexual violence is a problem in the United States. The necessity for declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month becomes even more clear when you look at just some of the statistics on sexual assault. Perhaps the greatest evidence for why Sexual Assault Awareness Month is necessary comes from the person who declared it as such this year.
President Donald J. Trump formally declared April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month on Friday, March 31, following a precedent set by former President Obama, who became the first president to do so in 2009. Trump has also been accused by multiple women of alleged sexual misconduct; he has repeatedly denied these allegations. And he began this month by coming to the defense of Bill O’Reilly in light of a New York Times report that settlements were paid to five women after they accused O’Reilly of alleged harassment. O’Reilly has denied the allegations, writing in a statement on his website, “Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.”
Whether or not Trump’s defense comes as a surprise to you, it is undeniably jarring to hear him defend someone accused of alleged sexual harassment just days after proclaiming the need to support the victims of such crimes. But I would argue that the election of Donald Trump is just one by-product of the way our culture perceives this kind of assault.
Sexual violence is an epidemic, one we need to be taking more seriously as a society. Acknowledging and understanding the reality of sexual assault is the first step in working toward ending it, which is why this month is significant. Wondering what to say to people who don’t think Sexual Assault Awareness Month is necessary? Here are 18 statistics that show exactly why we need it.
1. One in three men don’t think sex where a partner is pressured to give consent is sexual assault.
There is significant gender disparity when it comes to identifying what is not consent. A recent study conducted by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) found that cultural perceptions of assault varied based on gender and age. For example, coerced sex was seen as assault by 79 percent of women and just 67 percent of men.
2. Someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the United States.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that each year, an estimated 321,500 people 12 and older are sexually assaulted or raped.
3. One out of five women in America has been a victim of rape.
RAINN estimates more than 17,700,000 women have been raped in the past 19 years.
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