April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

The classmate who raped my college roommate 30 years ago was never held accountable for his behavior. The business man who molested a relative of mine decades ago was never held accountable for the crime he committed. The professional who sexually assaulted a friend of mine 10 years ago never served even a moment in jail. The high school student who recently raped a fellow student will never be formally charged. One wonders how many other assaults were or will be perpetrated by these men?

Not surprising, and not acceptable.

First, it is estimated that sexual assaults are one of the most, if not the most, underreported of all crimes.  Second, when a crime is reported few rapists are arrested, even fewer are prosecuted and then even fewer are convicted. In a recent analysis of data from various reports, RAINN estimates that out of every 100 rapes only 3 rapists will ever spend a single day in prison. Or in other words, 97 of 100 rapists will walk free!

So what do we, as a society, need to do to change this unacceptable statistic?  We first need to create a community in which a rapist will be held fully accountable. We will have educated law enforcement officers, prosecutors, court personnel and jurors. All who understand the dynamics of sexual victimization and will apply their knowledge to hold all perpetrators accountable for their actions and choices.

By creating a culture that emphasizes perpetrator accountability we will have created a safe environment for victims of rape to be able to reach out for help after an assault.  An environment where they know they will be supported, believed, trusted and cared. A space in which they will experience professionalism and support by each individual they will interact with as a result of their victimization – law enforcement, their employer, high school counselor, medical professional, prosecutor, spiritual leader, parents and others in their circle of family and friends.

What can you do today to help create such a culture? First, become educated on the facts of sexual violence.  Second, take a stand against sexual victimization by speaking out against the rape culture and the root cause of sexual violence. Let advertisers, entertainers, members of the media, elected officials and individual community members that you will not tolerate misogyny and victim blaming.

Join HAVEN in speaking out against rape and sexual assault. Join us in creating a world where everyone has a right to live without fear.

*Editor’s note: Please join us on April 17 for Take Back the Night at Oakland University, and join us on April 25 by wearing jeans for Denim Day.


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