GUEST VIEW: Sexual assault awareness, prevention in spotlight

The following editorial was published in April 9 edition of the Midland Daily News:

(TNS) April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Sexual assault happens every day in our communities, schools and workplaces.

It is important that people be educated on what constitutes sexual assault, and that there is help for victims of sexual violence.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stressed the continued need for support and justice for victims of sexual assault.

“We must continue to shine light on the crime of sexual assault during the month of April and beyond,” Schuette said in a statement released Thursday. “Together we can change the culture and help put a stop to sexual violence and assault. By educating ourselves and those around us on ways to prevent it and speak up if we see something that should not be happening then together we can make a difference.”

Schuette offered these facts about what sexual assault is, and how often it occurs.

  • Sexual assault is any type of forced or coerced sexual contact or behavior that happens without consent. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape, child molestation, and sexual harassment or threats.
  • Sexual violence happens to people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, professions, incomes and ethnicities.
  • It is common to think sexual assault only affects women, but it can affect men and women of all ages.
  • About 85 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows — a friend, acquaintance or partner.
  • One out of four women and one out of 10 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
  • 79 percent of female victims of rape report that they were first raped before age 25.
  • 28 percent of male victims of rape report that they were first raped at age 10 or younger.

Michigan victims of sexual violence are encouraged to call the national sexual assault hotline toll-free, 800-656-HOPE. All calls are confidential, and will be answered by a local counseling center affiliated with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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