Hopla’s Health Tips – Sexual assault: stats and steps

Deborah L. Hopla, DNP, Contributing Writer

        Think about the people you know and trust then think about the fact that most sexual assaults are carried out by these same people. According to the US Department of Justice approximately 80 percent of all sexual assaults are known to the victim/survivor. Looking at those same statistics we find 38 percent of the assaults were done by a friend or acquaintance; 28 percent by an intimate partner; and seven percent by a relative.

Every two minutes someone across the US is sexually assaulted according to the Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN). This group estimates that those numbers relate to one in six women and one in 33 men are assaulted.

Examining the FBI statistics rape is described in different categories: Forced rape, forcible rape, sexual assault with an object, peeping toms, statutory rape, forcible fondling, sexual exposure and incest. They also state that the vast majority of assaults are never reported. Sexual assault remains the most underreported crime in America with approximately 60 percent of assaults not reported according to the US Justice Department.

Here in Florence, the violent crime rate reported in 2012 was higher than the national crime rate average by 125 percent and higher than the South Carolina crime rate by nearly 56 percent. The reported forcible rapes in 2012 were 25 and in 2015 so far this year the reported forcible rape rate is 18.

If someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence it is important to convey to the person that it was not their fault and that you will be there for them if they want to talk. Be sure the person is in a safe environment. Take them for medical attention. Be non-judgmental and offer to stay with the victim. Be a good listener but don’t pry. Maintain confidentiality. People need time to recover from being a victim. Often victims need professional help to recover and move on.

Stalking and cyber-stalking refers to repeated harassing or threatening behavior that puts a person in a fearful position. One in 12 women will be stalked in their lifetime (The National Center for Victims of Crime, NCVC). Thirty percent of stalking victims are stalked by a former intimate partner per the NCVC. Eighty-seven percent of stalkers are male (NCVC) and 81 percent had been assaulted by their partner with 31 percent of those stalked being sexually assaulted by their partner.

Rapes, stalking and cyber-stalking are crimes that can happen to anyone, male or female. Domestic violence is on the rise for both genders. These crimes destroy families and people’s lives. The new slogan is, “NO MORE!” No more excuses, no more tolerance.