Sexual Violence is a Community Issue
Sexual violence exists everywhere. It affects everyone, with lasting outcomes for the survivors and their loved ones. Anyone can be a survivor or a perpetrator of this crime. The way that a community responds to sexual violence can impact everyone.
Sexual Violence is Common
Sexual violence is common and widespread. According the U.S. Department of Justice, in Colorado, 1 in 3 women, 1 in 6 men, and 1 in 2 trans folks experience completed or attempted sexual assault in their lifetime. Sexual assault is most commonly perpetrated by someone that the survivor knows. There are groups of people who are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence, including Indigenous, Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Asian communities. Sexual violence starts early, with a majority of survivors reporting that they experienced sexual assault before the age of 25, and a large portion of those assaults happen before the age of 18.
Sexual violence is also costly for the survivor. Recent estimates in research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimate that the cost of sexual assault on the survivor is around $112,000 dollars per survivor. This number includes medical costs, lost wages and productivity, and expenses throughout the criminal justice system.
These numbers are all staggering, and as researchers note, these statistics underestimate the issue because of the amount of sexual assaults that go unreported.
Community response matters when addressing sexual violence. Not only does the reaction of friends and family of a survivor matter after a disclosure, the general response of the survivor’s workplace, experience with law enforcement and the justice system, faith and worship group, and school peers and faculty all contribute to the way the survivor starts their healing journey. Secondary survivors also rely on the response of the community for support while navigating the healing process of the survivor.
Because of community-wide impact of sexual violence, we know that it takes a community approach to end sexual assault and its effects on survivors.
What can you do to end sexual violence?
- Make Prevention Education a Priority. Teaching the youth about healthy relationships and consent in medically accurate and culturally responsive ways are important lessons that they will carry on throughout their lives.
- Be an Active Bystander. Ending rape culture starts with us speaking up when we hear a sexually inappropriate comment or joke, and safely intervening when we see a potentially risky situation.
- Change the Conversation. Changing the way we talk about sexual assault is critical to ending sexual violence and rape culture. Changing the conversation starts in our friend groups, at the dinner table, and at our workplace.
- Support Survivors. Always start by believing when a loved one discloses an assault to you. Provide support to the best of your ability, and remember that The Blue Bench is a great resource for both you and the survivor.
- Support The Blue Bench. Join the movement to end sexual violence and support The Blue Bench to ensure that survivors will always have access to life-saving support services.