In response to WaPo Fact Checker: One rape is too many
HARRISBURG, PA – Sexual violence is complex and hard to talk about, but the fact is that sexual violence is an issue of epidemic proportions that impacts all of society. The February 12 column by Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post questions the accuracy of statistics about sexual assault, second-guesses research design and respondent ability to understand plainly worded questions, and ultimately infers that drug- or alcohol-facilitated sexual assaults are not legitimate.
Sexual violence occurs when a person chooses to exploit a vulnerability they see in another person—and this criminal behavior can take place whether or not alcohol or drugs are involved.
In fact, offenders use drugs and alcohol strategically when it comes to sexual assault: they know that someone who is severely intoxicated is often unable to stay conscious, have control of their bodies or surroundings and are likely to have gaps in memory; perpetrators use drugs or alcohol to lower their own inhibitions; and they rely on public opinion to not take reports of sexual assault seriously if the victim and/or offender were intoxicated. The offenders count on “us” to excuse their actions.
This offender strategy happens both on and off college campuses, and calling this common reality into question, or questioning statistics that have been consistently in the same range for two decades, distracts from efforts to prevent and respond to the very real and all-too-pervasive problem of sexual violence.
One rape is too many. The experience of sexual assault can be devastating, often derailing the pursuit of education, disrupting relationships, destroying a survivor’s sense of safety in the world and creating doubts about self-worth and a survivor’s ability to determine whom they can and cannot trust. Sexual assault damages campus communities and our society as a whole.
Statistics represent the stories of the countless survivors of sexual violence, many of whom were afraid to tell their friends, go to the police or confide in their families; their fears are largely rooted in the knowledge that their stories and actions—and thus their pain—are likely to be doubted by a culture that needs to do much better in listening to survivors. We appreciate the President of the United States publicly prioritizing sexual assault prevention and urging others to do the same.
The NSVRC knows that traumatizing acts of sexual violence are widespread and affect all genders, races, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. The NSVRC is committed to sexual violence prevention, providing research-based resources and fostering collaboration at the local, state and national-level. For positive change to occur, it is imperative that we develop a full and accurate understanding of the sexual violence epidemic, both on and off college campuses. We remain steadfastly committed to improving the quality of public health services and support to victims and their families, and to supporting communities in encouraging victims to seek help and report these crimes.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), founded by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) in 2000, creates and disseminates resources to assist advocates, allies, and journalists working across the globe to address and prevent all forms of sexual violence.
This publication is designed to promote consistency in the use of terminology and data collection across organizations that work to prevent sexual violence. The updated document provides more detail on the various definitions of “sexual violence” and by addressing how technology is used to perpetrate unwanted sexual experiences. Learn more and download.
This guide discusses the 2014 research article "A systematic review of primary prevention strategies for sexual violence perpetration" by Sarah DeGue et al. It summarizes the methods and discusses key findings of the systematic review. It also proposes ways preventionists can use this research to identify promising prevention strategies, strengthen and evaluate their current efforts, and advocate with funders, policymakers, researchers, and community partners.
This brief shares research on connections between different forms of violence and describes how these connections affect communities. The purpose is to help promote collaboration for more effective prevention.
Stop Street Harassment released this national report discussing research into the prevalence and experience of street harassment by both women and men. The majority of women experience street harassment. Many men who experience street harassment in the form of homophobic or transphobic slurs.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 requires that sexual assault victims must not be required to file law enforcement reports in order to receive free exams. This study examined how states are meeting these goals. It found that victim compensation funds are by far the largest funder of exams across the country. In the 19 jurisdictions included in case studies, victims generally received free exams without having to report if they did not want to. However, barriers to even accessing the exam prevent some victims from seeking help.
This site is supported by Grant/ Cooperative Agreement No. 1UF2CE002359-02 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.