Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Month

It is a fundamental human right to be free from sexual assault, yet tens of millions of Americans, including members of our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and classmates, still bear the agony of sexual assault. April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month which is crucial for speaking out, supporting brave survivors, and finally altering the society that has long tolerated sexual assault. 

Sexual activity that is violent occurs when permission is not freely given or received. It has a significant negative influence on people’s opportunities, well-being, and long-term health. Every community is impacted by sexual violence, which affects people of all sexes, sexual orientations, and ages. Sexual violence can be experienced or committed by anyone. 

Regardless of location, race, age, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic status, sexual assault impacts everyone. One in 26 males and one in four women have endured an actual or attempted rape. Based on the Campus Sexual Violence Statistics, sexual assault is a prevalent issue that frequently goes unreported on university campuses. It involves any form of unwelcome sexual contact, including rape.

Sexual assault on campuses frequently involves the use of drugs and alcohol.  Among graduate and undergraduate students, 13% of all students have been the victims of rape or sexual assault committed using physical force, violence, or incapacitating circumstances.  In undergraduate students, rape or sexual assault by physical force, violence, or incapacitation occurs in 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males. 

9.7% of female and 2.5% of male graduate and professional students report having been sexually assaulted or raped through the use of physical force, violence, or incapacitation.  Sexual assault is not your fault if it happened to you. You can receive help, and you are not alone. 

When drugs or alcohol are used to make it difficult for a victim to give their consent for sexual activity, this is known as drug-facilitated sexual assault. These substances make it simpler for an offender to engage in sexual assault since they reduce the victim’s capacity for resistance and may render the attack memoryless. 

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, the most common debilitator used in sexual assault crimes is still alcohol. Rohypnol, GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid), GBL (Gamma-Butyrolactone), and ketamine are just a few of the drugs that sexual assault offenders take. Any substance, in certain doses, can render you powerless.

It may result in PTSD, sadness, anxiety, and other mental and emotional injuries. We must continue to work to demonstrate the significance of consent and the legality of sexual assault. We also need to assist survivors in obtaining safety, justice, and healing.

Sexual assault victims are frequently the targets of someone they know, such as a friend, intimate partner—current or former—, workplace, neighbor, or family member. Sexual assault can take place in person, online, or through technology, such as when someone posts or shares sexually explicit images of them without their permission or engages in non-consensual sexting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sexual Violence states that assault has both physical and psychological repercussions. Chronic effects are another possibility. In addition to recurring reproductive, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and sexual health issues, victims may develop post-traumatic stress disorder.  Other types of violence are linked to sexual violence. 

Girls who have experienced sexual abuse, for instance, are more likely to go through additional acts of sexual abuse, as well as other types of violence, and to become victims of intimate partner violence in adulthood. Early middle school bullies are more likely to engage in sexual harassment in high school.  A victim of sexual assault may experience effects on their safety and health, relationships with their family and coworkers, and financial stability. These difficulties can result in complicated legal and personal issues.

Victims must frequently navigate the complexity of governmental and community agencies in order to receive basic support.  All college and university students should be aware of the hazards of sexual assault and educate themselves on how to defend themselves, especially first-year students in unfamiliar surroundings. 

A nationwide network of community-based rape crisis centers with locations in every state and territory is accessible for assistance and support. This private support includes advocacy, company during medical examinations and police interviews, education, follow-up services, and resource connections. 

For assistance or resources, you can contact the NDSU Counseling Center or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800)799-7233 which is available via phone and online chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center can be reached at (701)293-7273 in Fargo, North Dakota.

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