Sexual violence is a very serious public health problem that affects millions of women and men. In the United States, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime and nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced other forms of sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Statistics underestimate the problem because many victims do not tell the police, family, or friends about the violence. Sexual violence is any sexual activity where consent is not freely given. This includes completed or attempted sex acts that are against the victim's will or involve a victim who is unable to consent.
Sexual violence impacts health in many ways and can lead to long-term physical and mental health problems. Victims may experience chronic pain, headaches, and sexually transmitted diseases. They are often fearful or anxious, and may have problems trusting others. Anger and stress can lead to eating disorders, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
Even if the victim has not yet decided to report the crime, receiving a forensic medical exam and keeping the evidence safe from damage will improve the chances that the police can access and test the stored evidence at a later date.
Victims should make every effort to save anything that might contain the perpetrator’s DNA, therefore a victim should not:
CDC uses a 4-step approach to address public health problems such as sexual violence:
The ultimate goal is to stop sexual violence before it begins.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Retrieved April 4th, 2013 from http://www.cdc.gov/Features/SexualViolence/