The next four posts will surround sexual assault. Sexual assault occurs globally and is more common than we may think. This topic was a natural choice for me due to both personal experience and training I have taken. As far as topics go sexual assault often is kept to a whisper.
WHISPER… yes… WHISPER
We want to hear you, we want to know what you have to say, we want to help encourage you to move on, to get better, to start new. We want to help you heal your pain. We want to lift you up… We want to hear your story, listen to your voice, feel your pain. We want to make a difference, we want to make a change…We want to stop the violence…Tell us, tell us please, tell us your story. Speak out. BUT… Could you please whisper… because really part of me does not want to hear, believe, or experience the horrific pain because then it is easier for me to rationalize that this sort of crime does not happen and can not happen to you or to me really….We need to believe that, so please whisper.
That poem was written by a southern Alberta rape victim, and I shared it with you because it has a significant impact on these next four posts. Rape and sexual assault are topics with little discourse because it truly is one of the most uncomfortable topics. The reason this is shocking is that 1 in 4 Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. While my posts will mainly view victims as female, this is not to say men do not also get sexually assaulted. I focus on women and may use female pronouns due to the fact in Canada 92% of victims are female. I also must pause to explain that while I can reiterate government statistics, it is incredibly important to note that sexual assault is massively under-reported, in fact only 10% of victims report this crime to the police.
Before we dive further into the details, we must first make a crucial distinction: sexual assault versus rape.
Sexual assault is defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
Whereas Rape is defined as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
So Why Only 10%?
While there are many reasons sexual assault may go unreported the main reasons are fear, guilt, shame, stigma, embarrassment, Invasive rape kit, disbelief, and minimization. In 2007 police reported that 80% of cases the victim knew the perpetrator. It is also important to add some other statistics into that 10% that report. That is, that out of 310 reported rapes only 57 lead to arrests, 11 get referred to prosecutors, 7 lead to a felony conviction, and only 6 lead to incarceration.
But What About False Reports?
Men Against Abuse Now state, “Only about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false, the same percentage as for other felonies (FBI). So while they do happen, and they are very problematic when they do, people claim that allegations are false far more frequently than they are and far more frequently than for other crimes. Put another way, we are much more likely to disbelieve a woman if she says she was raped than if she says she was robbed, but for no good reason.” So the question becomes if I was to tell you I was raped would you be any less likely to believe me than if I told you I was physically assaulted?
In the following weeks, we will further examine sexual assault and continue a discourse that has continuously been silenced. I will examine the complexities and myths and show the importance of continuing this discourse.