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Notice to Readers: Sexual Assault Awareness Month --- April 2005

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During this month, activities will focus on sexual violence and increasing awareness regarding its devastating effects. One in six women and one in 33 men in the United States have been victims of rape or attempted rape during their lifetimes (1); eight out of 10 victims knew their perpetrators (1).

Rape is one of the most underreported crimes, making it difficult to accurately count the number of cases. The National Women's Study documented that 84% of women in their sample did not report their rapes to the police (2). A primary reason for the underreporting was cultural norms that stigmatize and blame women for their assaults.

Several myths about rape persist (3). Some of the most prevalent rape myths are that women lead men on and therefore deserve to be raped, women often make false accusations of rape, no woman can be raped against her will, and most rapists are strangers (4--6). For these and other reasons, rape survivors often do not disclose experiences of rape and other sexual violence.

Additional information about sexual violence is available at http://www.cdc.gov/injury. Materials are available from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 123 North Enola Drive, Enola, PA 17025; telephone, 877-739-3895; or at http://www.nsvrc.org.

References

  1. Tjaden P, Thoennes N. Full report of the prevalence, incidence, and consequences of violence against women: findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice; 2000. Report no. NCJ 183781.
  2. Kilpatrick DG, Edmunds C, Seymour A. Rape in America: a report to the nation. Charleston, SC: National Victim Center & the Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Medical University of South Carolina; 1992.
  3. Lonsway KA, Fitzgerald LF. Rape myths: In review. Psychology of Women Quarterly 1994;18:133--64.
  4. Brownmiller S. Against our will. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster; 1975.
  5. Burt MR. Cultural myths and support for rape. J Pers Soc Psychol 1980;38:217--30.
  6. Ward CA. Attitudes toward rape: feminist and social psychological perspectives. London, England: Sage; 1995.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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