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Notice to Readers: Sexual Assault Awareness Month --- April 2006

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Throughout the month, CDC encourages communities to promote healthy relationships and to increase awareness about the devastating impact of sexual violence.

Sexual violence affects persons at all stages of life. In 2003, approximately two out of 1,000 children in the United States were confirmed by child protective services as having been sexually assaulted (1). Many sexually abused children, however, are not identified by child protective services. In 2003, approximately 9% of high school students reported having been forced to have sexual intercourse (2). At least one in six women and one in 33 men in the United States have been victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime (3).

The consequences of sexual violence can be severe. Survivors can suffer short-term physical injuries, including genital tearing, bruises, and broken bones (4). Long-term health consequences can include sexually transmitted diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic neck, back, and facial pain (5). In addition, survivors often face serious mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (4). Many survivors do not tell friends and family about the assault and consequently suffer the physical and psychological consequences alone (4). Those who do disclose their abuse might be stigmatized by their family, friends, and communities.

Communities are encouraged to plan activities in recognition of SAAM. A calendar of national, state, and local events is available at http://www.nsvrc.org. Information about sexual violence is available at http://www.cdc.gov/injury. SAAM materials are available from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 123 North Enola Drive, Enola, PA 17025; telephone 877-739-3895 and at http://www.nsvrc.org.

References

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. Child maltreatment 2003. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; 2005. Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm03/index.htm.
  2. CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance---United States, 2003. MMWR 2004;53(No. SS-2).
  3. 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.
  4. Basile K. Sexual violence in the lives of girls and women. In: Kendall-Tackett K, ed. Handbook of women, stress, and trauma. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge; 2005:101--22.
  5. Jewkes R, Sen P, Garcia-Moreno C. Sexual violence. In: Krug E, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, et al., eds. World report on violence and health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002:213--39.



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