News

Stay up to date on the latest news in the community regarding Hope House and domestic violence.

Female Hope House resident

News

Stay up to date on the latest news in the community regarding Hope House and domestic violence.

April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Content Warning: The following blog discusses sexual assault.

It is spring, a time for renewal, for growth, and for the sun to shine on the earth in places that had forgotten its warmth.  Sometimes, the spring sun shines on wet, boggy, muddy places, and through illuminating them, it eliminates them. Drying up the toxic water and leaving behind fertile land, ready to grow again.

April is also sexual assault awareness month.  When you think of sexual assault you probably picture a shadowy figure hiding behind a bush, or a charming individual, slipping a drug into an unattended drink.  You probably don’t picture a dating or married couple.  However, 90% of rape and sexual assault survivors know their attacker[1], 40-45% of relationships involving domestic violence, also involve sexual violence[2], and 14-25% of women will be sexually assaulted by an intimate partner in their relationship.[3]  If these statistics shock you, you are not alone.  While rape and sexual assault are notoriously underreported, Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (IPSV) is the most underreported of rape and sexual violence crimes.  But just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t having a devastating impact on members of our communities.

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence is a form of domestic violence as well as a form of sexual assault.  As can be seen in the wheel below it can come in many forms and can contribute to a larger sense of fear within a manipulative relationship based on power and control.

To make matters even worse, “marital rape” (the term previously used to describe IPSV) was made illegal anywhere in the United States 41 years ago, with the last state creating laws banning marital rape in 1993 (Missouri waited until 1991).  This attitude, that rape isn’t a concern within committed relationships continues today, and further isolates victims of domestic violence, discouraging them from sharing their stories.  And the cost is great.

Women in violent relationships who are sexually abused by their partner, have higher rates of anxiety and depression than either women who have been sexually abused by a non-partner or women in violent relationships with no sexual abuse.  Also, sexual abuse inside an already violent relationship can be a red flag for risks of homicide.[4]

So why are we talking about this?  Sometimes the only way to defeat a dark topic, is to shine a big fat light on it, and you can help brighten the beam.

Pay attention to those around you, to news stories, and to anyone who may confide in you.  Make a conscious effort to believe a survivor, even if their story doesn’t match your picture of sexual violence.  Remember, rape is only falsely reported at 2-8%, similar to false reports in all other crimes.  Speak out when news headlines and organizations minimize sexual violence of any kind.  Volunteer! Hope House and MOCSA both have opportunities for you to get involved.  And as always, if you or someone you know needs help, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the numbers below.

Hope House: 816-461-HOPE (4673)

MOCSA: 816-531-0233

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

[1]
http://mocsa.org/info-resources/sexual-assault

[2]
https://ncadv.org/files/Domestic%20Violence%20and%20Sexual%20Abuse%20NCADV.pdf

[3]
https://ncadv.org/files/Domestic%20Violence%20and%20Sexual%20Abuse%20NCADV.pdf

[4]
https://ncadv.org/files/Domestic%20Violence%20and%20Sexual%20Abuse%20NCADV.pdf