April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In the US, one of out of every three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Of those, one-quarter will be assaulted before her 18th birthday. For boys and young men, the figure varies from one in six to one in nine. Either way, it happens far too frequently, and far more frequently than most people realize.

Chances are high that you know at least one person who has been raped or sexually abused, though you may not know it. Chances are higher still that you know families who have been affected by - and changed by - sexual violence in some way.

In more than half of sexual assaults, the victim knows her or his assailant, who might be a boyfriend, a parent, a coach or the friendly man next door. However, the stereotyped "stranger with a weapon" attack does occur, and much more frequently than you hear on your local TV news.

Our society (strangely, I think), often focuses on the aberrations - the female serial murderer, the ambiguous rape case. Most rape is anything but ambiguous. As Louise said, pointing the gun, "In the future? When a woman is crying like that? She isn't having any fun."

What can you do? Listen. And believe. I took part in this last year. I spoke, and I listened. It's hard, but it's overdue.

No comments: