April 13, 2005

WE CAN ALL SPEAK OUT

Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

Many adults carry the emotional scars of a terrible crime hidden from family and friends for decades. It may have started when they were very young and touched inappropriately. They may have been date-raped as a teenager. They may have been sexually assaulted by a trusted authority figure.Chances are you know someone who has been affected by this crime. Whether it was the trauma of personal experience or the aftermath of it happening to a family member or a friend, this exists in every community in Idaho. And speaking out against this particular crime is perhaps more difficult than speaking out against any other violent act because of its personal nature. Sexual assaultâ??rape, incest, and any sexually violent act committed by one person against anotherâ??knows no boundaries. It poisons all socio-economic levels, male, female, young, old, disabled, teens, college students and marriages. The statistics are chilling:-1,871 women are raped daily in the United States.-More than half of all rapes occur in the victimsâ?? homes or in the home of a relative, friend or neighbor.-Almost ten percent of rape victims are male.-Almost 30 percent of college women who participated in a national survey reported a sexual experience in their lifetime which met the legal definition of rape.-Almost ten percent of college men reported committing aggressive sexual behavior which met the legal definition of rape.-Tragically, up to 83 percent and 32 percent of developmentally disabled women and men, respectively, are victims of sexual assault.-Rape is predominately committed against our nationâ??s children and young people: Over 20 percent of female rape victims are girls under 12; 32 percent are aged 12 â?? 17; and, 29 percent are aged 18 â?? 24. -Most rapes are planned.-28 percent of victims are sexually assaulted by husbands or boyfriends; 35 percent by acquaintances; and five percent by other relatives.-In one study, five percent of boys in grades 9-12 and three percent of boys in grades 5 - 8 reported that they had been sexually abused and some estimates suggest that boys constitute 25 to 35 percent of the victims of child sexual abuse. -Rape victims are nine times more likely to commit suicide.Sexual assault is the most rapidly growing violent crime in our country. Sexual assault indiscriminately invades communities, neighborhoods and homes. Contrary to destructive myths, victims donâ??t ask for it, donâ??t lie about it, and certainly donâ??t invite it by consuming alcohol or drugs. Sexual assault is not about victimsâ?? action or inaction. Itâ??s completely about the perpetrator and his (and in some cases, her) intention to hurt, humiliate and wield power over a helpless child or adult. Sexual assault is violence executed through sexual behavior.Fortunately, many hard-working people and organizations in Idaho have dedicated time and resources to combating this heinous crime. Domestic violence prevention and victims assistance programs in communities across the state have shelters and hotlines for people who have been sexually assaulted or know of an incident. An easy number to remember is the statewide Idaho Careline at 2-1-1.Regarding sexual assault, prevention is the best course and involves educating people about the dangerous mindset that precedes an assault. It means rejecting words and actions that society has historically accepted: jokes that demean women; crude, disrespectful language describing women; physical behavior such as inappropriate touching or grabbing; and pornography, either on the Internet or in magazines.April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We can take steps to eradicate this epidemic. It starts with you and it starts today.