If you've ever experienced sexual assault or know someone who has, you're not alone. In fact you're in a large percentage of women who have had to deal with the trauma of sexual aggression.
Sexual violence covers a whole range of actions, from inappropriate touching to forced sexual acts and rape. Officially speaking, sexual assault is described as "unwanted act of sexual nature that is imposed upon another person" and it's a crime that has far-reaching repercussions.
Whether you're wary of walking home alone at night, or cross the road to avoid that group of guys or daren't make eye contact with men on the subway, the fear of sexual assault is a grim reality for women at every age.
Aside from the horror of being disrespected, humiliated and forced against their will, victims of sexual assault and violence also have to deal with shame and social judgement, as often women are accused of bringing such acts upon themselves due to how they dress and behave.
That's a myth that just isn't true but, unfortunately, these sober facts are:
Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have been raped at some point in their lives
According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey, that harrowing statistic represents 22 million women.
79.6% of female victims in the U.S. were raped before they turned 25
A bizarre and troubling "rite of passage" that forces women to grow up faster than their male counterparts.
During the first six weeks of college, women are most likely to be raped or experience attempted rape
This period of time is known as the "red zone." The majority of women who are assaulted during the first month of their freshmen year were incapacitated primarily due to alcohol.
Female college students rarely report their sexual assault
In fact, only 12% of survivors report their assault to the proper authorities. Why? Because victims who were assaulted while drunk or under the influence of a drug are less likely to tell someone due to perceived shame or uncertainty over what exactly occurred.
51% of overall female survivors reported that their rapist was a "former or current intimate partner"
Rapists and attackers are not strangers lurking in a bush - they are trusted friends, family members, and acquaintances.
Party drugs are frequently used to incapacitate survivors
We've all heard of the Date Rape drugs Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) but popular party drugs such as MDMA (molly, ecstasy) and Ketamine are also used to knock out survivors.
Friends of rapists often share similar attitudes regarding violence against women
In a small study conducted at Georgia State University, it was found that men who exhibit sexually aggressive behavior are endorsed and supported by their chosen friend group.
Survivors often experience assault amongst their own creature comforts
Women tend to feel safest in their homes, especially when the doors are locked. However, between 2005 and 2010, about 55% of sexual violence happened in or near a survivor's home.
Survivors have to see the scars of trauma long after the sexual violence occurred
From 2005 to 2010, 58% of survivors suffered a physical injury, "such as cuts, bruises, internal injuries, broken bones, gunshot wounds, vaginal or anal injuries."
Globally, 1 in 14 women under the age of 15 will experience sexual assault by a "non-partner."
The threat of sexual violence follows women across countries and continents.
We're right behind Sexual Assault Awareness Month. More attitudes need to change and more awareness needs to be raised about how wide spread this problem is. You can find more out about SAAM by checking out the events and educational resources on their site.
How are you helping to end sexual violence? Tweet us @wewomenUSA!