Written by Shannon McFarlin
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and a time to focus on a crime that happens almost every two minutes in the United States (that means an average of 207,754 victims a year according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey). The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
Sexual violence is a serious public health problem in the United States. Statistics underestimate the problem because many victims are afraid to 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. It also includes abusive sexual contact and non-contact sexual abuse (such as sexual harassment). Child sexual abuse is also considered sexual violence.
This type of violence can be committed by a current or former intimate partner, a family member, a person in position of power or trust, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
Sexual violence impacts health in many ways and can lead to long-term health and emotional 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.
Sexual assault is a most intimate crime, and when it happens in our most intimate sanctuaries—our homes—the trauma is devastating and difficult to escape. Healing from sexual violence can only happen on a foundation of safety and safety starts with home
The goal of Corpus Christi Police Department’s Victim Assistance Program is to raise the community’s awareness about sexual violence and to educate our community on how to prevent sexual violence. It is also important to learn how as a community we can be allies to survivors of sexual violence by believing and supporting them.
What can you do to help? For starters, educate yourself on the reality of sexual assault in our society today. Here’s a quick review in order to help:
Sexual assault: Forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.
Acquaintance assault: Involves coercive sexual activities that occur against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, or fear of bodily injury. These sexual activities are imposed upon them by someone they know (a friend, date, acquaintance, etc.).
Incest: Sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent.
Consent: Consent occurs when both partners freely and willingly participate in sexual activities.
The legal definition of rape includes any sexual contact without consent. Consent cannot be legally given, in most states, if a person is:
– Under 17
– Mentally incapacitated
– Drunk or high
Additionally, the absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” So, even if a person does not fight back or explicitly say “no,” they still are not necessarily giving consent.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the Victim Advocates at the Corpus Christi Police Department:
Shae McFarlin (361) 826-2950 Laura Munoz (361) 886-2851
Sarah DeLeon (361) 826-2952 Debra Garcia (361) 886-2674