Sex assault victims need local voice
Television shows and news stories do no justice to highlight the impact sexual assault has on our communities until you look at the numbers. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the largest anti-sexual abuse organization in the country, sexual assault takes place every two minutes if you compare the time in one year to the nearly 250,000 sex cases that were reported in 2010. Jeff Davis added to those numbers, with 252 cases of violence against women reported in the same year. About 20 of those cases involved actual rapes. And those are just the reported ones.
In this area, though, there is no outlet for such victims. While local law enforcement do their best to see that an offender is arrested and prosecuted, there is so much more to surviving sexual assault than seeing someone arrested.
According to RAINN, 38 percent of rapists are a friend, relative or type of acquaintance. Meanwhile, 44 percent of their victims are under the age of 18. Men aren’t immune to assault, either: at least 10 percent of all sexual assault victims are male.
But even when these cases are reported, justice doesn’t always prevail. Nationwide, of all the rapes reported, just over half will lead to arrests. If a rapist is actually arrested, there is an 80 percent chance he will be prosecuted, but even then, only a 58 percent chance he will be convicted. Even after being found guilty of a crime, offenders only face a 69 percent chance of actually serving jail time.
Whether an offender faces punishment or not, it is the victims that must live each day remembering what was forced upon them. That’s why it’s important that we support Communities Against Domestic Abuse’s (CADA) work at founding a sexual assault program in this parish. Many people here have suffered the effects of rape, incest, molestation and more horrifying crimes. The sad part is, more of these cases are reported each day, while some have never broken their silence. With such a program in this parish, those victims would not have to seek resources in other parishes. They could find counseling and legal advocacy right here at home – the same place where they were victimized.
The bottom line is that we need this program.
So many women here need the resources CADA could offer to make it through what happened to them. But the program is not only a chance to reach out to victims; it’s also a chance to stand up against offenders and show them they have no power.
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