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Helping Victims of Sexual Assault and Rape

Helping Victims of Sexual Assault and Rape

sexual violence, rapeIn an effort to address sexual violence against both men and women, the White House proclaimed April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Because the aftermath of such violence can result in suicidal feelings, depression, PTSD, and other mental disorders, clinicians play an important role in treating both victims and perpetrators and helping to prevent further damage.

In terms of prevention, the following efforts have been made or are in process:

•The Department of Justice (DOJ) “modernized the definition of rape used to collect our nation’s crime statistics

•The DOJ is working with law enforcement agencies to implement this change in definition to develop new guidelines for investigating sexual assault cases

The Office on Violence Against Women is funding training that will help communities address their backlogs of rape kits and improve prosecution of sexual assault crimes

The Office of Victims of Crime is supporting the development of a telemedicine center that will help bring sexual assault forensic exams to victims in rural and isolated communities

•President Obama recently signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization, originally drafted by then Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and passed in 1994. This legislation mandates states to set aside funds to develop programs “that meaningfully address rape and sexual assault including those committed by strangers, acquaintances, and intimate partners as well as alcohol and drug facilitated rapes. This means more training for law enforcement and prosecutors and more resources for victim services”1

•College campuses must provide orientation programs to new students about dating violence and sexual assault and must develop clear, written policies about how these cases will be handled

•Federally subsidized housing programs must protect sexual assault victims from being evicted or denied housing due to the assault committed against them, and must help a victim transfer to another housing unit if necessary

•Mariska Hargitay and the Joyful Heart Foundation are addressing the rape kit backlog

•The No More Campaign is working to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault

Both men and women can be victims of sexual assault and rape—1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in their lifetimes and over 1 million rapes occur every year. According to the White House, sexual violence is “an affront to human dignity and a crime no matter where it occurs.”

Reference
1. The White House. Recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/04/08/recognizing-sexual-assault-awareness-month.

 
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