April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Sexual Violence is a Serious Public Health ProblemSexual violence is a serious public health problem in the United States. Statistics underestimate the problem because many victims are afraid to tell the police, family, or friends about the violence. In the United States, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report that they have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In addition, nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men report that they have experienced sexual violence victimization other that rape in their lifetime.
Sexual violence is any sexual activity where consent is not freely given. This includes completed or attempted sex acts that are against the victim's will or involve a victim who is unable to consent. It also includes abusive sexual contact and noncontact sexual abuse (such as verbal sexual harassment). Child sexual abuse is also considered sexual violence.
This type of violence can be committed by anyone - a current or former intimate partner, a family member, a person in position of power or trust, a friend, an acquaintance, someone known only by sight, or a stranger.
Sexual violence impacts health in many ways and can lead to long-term health and emotional problems. Victims may experience chronic pain, headaches, and sexually transmitted diseases. They are often fearful or anxious, and may have problems trusting others. Anger and stress can lead to eating disorders, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of sexual violence, contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.
Working to Prevent Sexual ViolenceThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works to prevent sexual violence before it occurs. Our activities include:
- Documenting the extent of the problem;
- Conducting research on the factors that put people at risk or protect them from sexual violence;
- Creating and evaluating the effectiveness of prevention programs;
- Helping state and local partners plan, implement, and evaluate prevention programs; and
- Conducting research on the effective adoption and dissemination of prevention strategies.