Each year we keep hearing about sexual assault cases that have led the victims having to experience negative effects referring to both their physical and mental health. Unfortunately, sexual assault can and does affect anyone, no matter their race, gender, age, and social status, with its victims variating from children to adults, from women to men. Today, we will explore sexual assault as a still-present silent epidemic in 2020.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is the term that is being used to refer to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without any given verbal or non-verbal consent of the victim. To put it in simpler terms – sexual assault is any unwanted sexual behavior that causes feelings of fear, as well as feeling threatened and uncomfortable with the previously mentioned behavior.
There are many different types of sexual assault that have been reported over the years. The most common of them all is, of course, rape. Other types include sexual contact with minors, despite the fact that consent has been given, forcible anal or oral sex against someone’s will, and forcible object penetration, among many others.
Sexual assault is considered to be a serious crime all around the world. In many cases, the offenders are using sexual assault as a way to achieve sexual pleasure, whereas others are using it as a way to practice control and power over someone else. Many of the offenders have experienced sexual assault themselves, especially during their childhood days.
Over the years, there has been a list of certain risk factors for a sexual assault that includes factors such as:
- Young age;
- Being female;
- Consuming alcohol and/or drugs;
- Having been previously sexually assaulted in the past;
- Being involved in sex work, etc.
Although the majority of the victims are women, both men and women can be sexually assaulted. The offenders can also be of either gender – male or female. Between 1998 and 2010, a total of 17.7 million American women and 2.78 million American men have been victims of sexual assault.
One unfortunate fact is that most of the sexual assault victims remain silent after their assault, feeling afraid to report their experience with sexual assault. One of the reasons why that is is the fact that in many cases, the victims have known their offender with that being their spouse, friend, coworker, boss, etc.
Sexual assault – the 2020 silent epidemic in sexual healthcare
Although we have seen a meaningful decline in sexual assault cases since 1993 – with that being approximately 4.3 assaults per 1,000 people back in 1993 to 1.2 per 1,000 in 2016, the rates of sexual assault are still very much hight. It has also been suggested that every 73 seconds, another American is being sexually assaulted.
Research has also shown that 1 out of every 6 American women has been a victim of either attempted or completed rape during her lifetime. In 55% of the cases, the sexual assault has happened at or near the victim’s home.
Sexual assault has been and continues to be a silent epidemic in sexual healthcare in 2020. The consequences that happen after a sexual assault has taken place are devastating as the event leaves permanent marks onto the victim’s life. Both their physical and mental health has been compromised due to the sexual assault that has taken place.
Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, such as drugs and alcohol, are commonly seen among sexual assault victims. These individuals often experience PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) that needs to be regulated with the use of proper medication and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to help them continue living a normal life as much as possible.
Not to mention the extremely high suicide rates that have been reported among sexual assault victims. A research from 1993 has shown that from the 158 female suicide attempters aged 20 years and older, 50% of the subjects have reported being sexually assaulted at some point in their life, leading them to attempt suicide later. It has been suggested that sexual assault victims are 7 to 13 times more likely to attempt suicide as compared with the rest of the general population.
Sexual assault is one of the reasons for the high pregnancy rates, especially in young adults, with these individuals having to face unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted and unplanned child later. There is also a high risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, and many others. Many of the sexual assault victims are diagnosed with one or more sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the sexual assault that has happened.
What may be most devastating is how often police end up dismissing complaints of sexual assault victims, even when there is a clear result of the complications that have occurred and proof of the circumstances that the assault has taken place under. This causes only additional discouragement for the sexual assault victims to come forward and report this devastating event. It seems that it is every day that we hear about a new sexual assault case that has been either not reported or without any success when it comes to serving justice to the offender.
Sexual assault has been one of the silent epidemics in sexual healthcare, and unfortunately, it continues to be in the new 2020. Bringing many health risks and complications to these patients’ physical and mental health – from unwanted pregnancy to depression and even suicide among many others, the sexual assault rates are required to be reduced as soon as possible. Although a certain decline has been noticed over the years, the rates are still high, affecting millions of women and men around the world.