April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

One in five women will be the victim of sexual assault at some time in their lives. One in five women will be a victim of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college. One in 16 men will be a victim of sexual assault during college. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.

The statistics differ by source, but the issue of sexual and domestic violence is impossible to deny.

If you’ve seen the news in recent months, you’ve read about many sexual assault cases in colleges or universities. Institutions of higher learning have often been unprepared to handle these crimes and as a society, we have not done justice for our victims, male or female.

Many victims of sexual assault report that these occurred when the victim was under the age of 25 and a startling 44 percent have occurred in youth under the age of 18. To start to tackle this issue in our society, we need to approach the topic in several ways: increasing awareness of the problem, reducing risk (especially for youth), and by responding in timely and helpful ways.

The more we bring this issue out of the closet and start to have conversations with youth and young adults about what sexual violence and intimate partner violence means, the greater impact we can have. Helping our youth understand what healthy relationships and consent looks like, and what behaviors can be warning signs of control and abuse is one way to gain awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Risk-reduction approaches can help individuals recognize warning signs and learn ways to keep themselves safe. Bystander training has become a very popular method for teaching people how to watch out for friends and step in when someone else might be in danger.

The response after a sexual assault works to reduce the long-term impact on victims, making sure people know what resources and options are available to them after an assault and making sure there are supports to help victims in times of need.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, there will be many events throughout the month to raise awareness and promote risk-reduction around sexual assault.

Events will include supporting National Denim Day (April 29), making visual displays to show how often sexual assault can and does happen, and a supportive campaign that aligns with the National “No More” movement. To make a change, we have to acknowledge there is a problem.

Our campus wants to educate, create awareness, and do whatever we can to wipe out sexual assault and violence.
For more information:

Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County; 920-452-7640 or 800-499-7640

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault; wcasa .org

Rape Abuse & Incest National Network; RAINN.org; 800-656-HOPE

National Sexual Violence Resource Center; nsvrc.org; 877-739-3895

NO MORE; www.nomore .org

Kristine Feggestad is a member of HSC-2020 Mental Health Committee and a mental health counselor at UW-Sheboygan and Northshore Clinic. Amanda Farrar is a Counseling Intern at UW-Sheboygan.