Sexual Violence is Preventable

Sexual Violence is Preventable

Sexual violence impacts every community and affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, and ages. Anyone can experience sexual violence and it can happen anywhere—even online.

Sexual violence refers to sexual activity when consent is not obtained or freely given. Sexual violence affects millions of people each year in the United States. The official numbers are likely an underestimate because many cases go unreported. Survivors may be ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to tell the police, friends, or family about the violence. Check out the most recent CDC sexual violence data. Sexual violence includes child sexual abuse involving victims younger than age 18 as well as sex trafficking, which is a type of human trafficking and is a form of modern-day slavery.

Prevention is Possible
daughter talking to mother

CDC focuses on preventing sexual violence before it happens. Changing social norms, teaching skills, empowering girls and women, and creating protective environments can help prevent and reduce sexual violence.  We all have a role to play in prevention.

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults can:

Schools and workplaces can:

  • Create protective environments.
    • Improve safety and monitoring in schools by addressing areas where students feel less safe, identifying safe spaces and staff support for students, and creating an atmosphere of intolerance for harassment and violence.
    • Establish and apply proactive workplace sexual harassment prevention policies and procedures that include commitment from top management, zero tolerance, notification to applicants and new hires of harassment-free environments, regular organizational assessments, and consistent, specific training to reduce workplace SV behaviors.

Everyone can:

  • Promote social norms that protect against violence.
    • Speak up against sexist language or behaviors that promote violence.
    • Offer to help or support in situations where violence may occur or has occurred.
  • Support Survivors to Lessen Harms.
    • Know where and how to get help.
      • Victim-centered services like rape crisis centers provide a safe, healing environment where survivors can access resources and victim advocacy.
      • Evidence-based treatments, like Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), can help victims address SV’s negative effects, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
      • Treatment for children who may have been exposed to violence in the home or community and are at-risk for violence perpetration or other serious behavioral problems is available. One example is the Children with Problematic Sexual Behavior Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program: School-Age Program (PSB-CBT), which is meant to reduce or eliminate sexual behavior problems.
  • If you are or someone you know is a survivor of SV:
    • Contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. Help is free, confidential, and available 24/7. Get information at RAINN.
    • Contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.