Courtesy photoOne in five women and one in 67 men will be raped at some point in their lives. By the time they were 17 years old, 57% of women and 42% of men had experienced some form of sexual assault. Even with these statistics, rape remains the most under-reported crime; as 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement.
For the last month, I have been honored to speak with six individuals who work with sexual assault survivors. Hearing their stories was a powerful experience. With each interview, I became more enlightened to the far-reaching impact sexual assault has.
Sexual Assault In Numbers
The City of Auburn has seen a steady increase in reports of “forcible rape” over the last ten years. For reporting purposes, forcible rape includes all forms of rape. Other sex crimes, such as immoral communication with a minor or indecent exposure, are categorized separately. In 2008 Auburn Police Department showed 14 reported forcible rapes. In 2017, 46 were reported. 2017 saw the most significant increase (10) in reports since 2011 (8). According to APD crime analyst Joe Ryan, there are no indications of any pattern with common offenders or suspects to explain this increase.
According to RAINN, only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported. Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals. On average six perpetrators of 310 (1.94%) reported rapes will be incarcerated; compared to 20 of 619 (3.23%) reported robberies.
It is a tragic misconception that false reports of sexual assaults are common. Only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported, the same percentage as for other felonies. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since records began in 1989, in the US only 52 cases of men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because they were falsely accused.
Comparatively, in that same period, there are 790 exonerations for murder.
33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide, 13% attempt it. 30% of women report symptoms of PTSD nine months after the rape. These harrowing statistics show the profound, lasting, impact of sexual assault. But they are not every story. Many survivors seek and receive treatment, coming out on the other side of their assault empowered.
Resources are available for survivors of sexual assault. The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center is available to “to give voice to victims, their families, and the community; create change in beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors about violence; and instill courage for people to speak out about sexual assault.”
KCSARC offers a 24-hour resource line, counseling for survivors, families, advocacy, legal advocacy, and family services. To talk with someone immediately, please call the 24-Hour Resource Line at 888.99.VOICE (888.998.6423). RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week at 800.656.HOPE (4673). An online chat is also available at RAINN.org.
My original intent with this piece was to write a single article for Sexual Assault Awareness Month speaking to several aspects of sexual assault: medical, investigative, psychological and judicial. As I began researching, I realized that a single piece would not give this important subject the respect it deserves. Instead of publishing this piece during SAAM, I increased my personal awareness and am now sharing what I learned.
I have profound respect for sexual assault survivors and those that work with them. Researching and writing this series has been an evoking emotional experience that at times has been so impactful I have had to walk away. My hope is that readers will receive at least a fraction of that impact.
I want to offer my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Java Tunson of Multicare Auburn Medical Center and Makenzy Byrum a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner with Rapid Sexual Assault Victim Exam (SAVE) Investigation, LLC for sharing with me the medical side of working with sexual assault survivors. Detective Mark Walker with Auburn Police Department for walking me through the investigative process. Larraine Lynch, Clinical Manager for KCSARC for discussing the psychological impacts sexual assault has and what KCSARC offers for survivors. And King County Prosecutors with the Special Assault Unit Raam Wong and Celia Lee for reviewing the complex judicial aspect of sexual assault. Without their participation, this would not be possible.