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"Understanding the Importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month: A Comprehensive Guide"

Updated: Apr 5

Written by: Mary Nichole Campbell, LPC-Associate


For the month of April, we are dedicating our efforts to recognize Sexual Assault

Awareness Month. This time gives us an opportunity to foster understanding,

build support, and take action against sexual violence. As we confront the

unsettling reality that sexual violence is so prevalent in our society, we must

begin by understanding what it is and the complexities that lie beneath.


What is sexual violence?


Sexual violence encompasses any sexual act that is unwanted or non-

consensual in nature. While most of us associate sexual violence primarily with

rape, this type of violence can occur on a spectrum, with other forms that are

equally damaging, yet less readily recognizable.


o Completed or attempted rape

o Child sexual assault

o Intimate Partner Violence

o Unwanted sexual contact

o Sexual harassment

o Sexual exploitation

o Human trafficking

o Exposing one’s genitals to another without consent.

o Masturbating in public

o Voyeurism, or secretly watching another person engage in private acts

without their knowledge or permission.

o Sharing sexually explicit images without consent


How prevalent is sexual violence?


o An American is sexually assaulted approximately every minute.

o A child is sexually assaulted approximately every 9 minutes.

o Approximately half of women and 1 in 3 men have been victims of sexual

violence involving physical contact.

o 1 in 4 women and about 1 in 26 men have experienced completed or

attempted rape.

o 1 in 3 women and about 1 in 9 men experienced sexual harassment.

o Sexual violence is experienced most frequently by women and racial and

ethnic minority groups.


The scope of sexual violence is pervasive and alarming. Regardless of what form it

takes or where it occurs, the connection across all these instances is the absence of

consent. It is essential to understand that these statistics fail capture the true extent of

sexual violence in our world. Many incidents remain unreported due to a range of

obstacles, including fear of retaliation, societal stigma, lack of trust in the justice system,

or feelings of guilt and shame. However, by acknowledging the realities of the issue, we

can work towards building a safer and more supportive community. As we open our

eyes and work to eliminate stigma, the hope is survivors begin to feel supported and

empowered to speak out against sexual violence.


This month, I will be shining a light on issues of consent, discussing the physical and

psychological impact of sexual violence, and providing information on how to seek help

if you or a loved one have been impacted by sexual violence. Be sure to visit our site

each week in April to stay up to date with our ongoing conversation. Your comments

and contributions are not only welcomed but encouraged! Please feel free to share your

thoughts and insights in the comments section below. Through collaboration and an

open dialogue, we can work towards replacing stigma with empowerment.

Sources:

Fayaz, I. (2024). Factors Associated with Growth in Sexual Violence Survivors: A

Systematic Scoping Review. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 50(1), 63–75.






, E. J., & Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2023). Sexual Violence-Related Stigma, Mental

Health, and Treatment-Seeking: A Multimodal Assessment in a Population-Based Study

of Young Adults. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 38(19-20), 11243-11271.

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