Sexual assault refers to any sexual contact or act without consent. When people are asked to describe what they think sexual assault is, they often think of strangers assaulting women in the dead of night. In reality, both women and men are victims of sexual assault, and the perpetrator is most often an acquaintance or a previously intimate partner of the victim.
Even though sexual assault is such a widespread issue, we often struggle to define what exactly it is. This lack of consistency in the definition affects how these cases are tried in courts, and how perpetrators and victims view their role in the assault. Click here to see what the CDC classifies as sexual assault (warning that this content details acts that some survivors may find triggering).
Health and Behavior Consequences
Victims of sexual assault often develop a number of physical and psychological health problems, and are more likely to engage in behaviors that leave them exposed to future health issues and future assault.
For victims, this can feel like being trapped in an endless cycle. They sometimes struggle with thoughts that they won't be believed, or publicly shamed, and often blame themselves that it happened in the first place. They question their role in the assault, and wonder whether they should have done something different that could have prevented it.
When victims of sexual assault talk about their experience, it doesn't help that we often question the situation and place blame on the victim for being in that situation in the first place: "why were they wearing that?", "why did they drink?", "why were they taking drugs?"," why wouldn't they report it when it first happened if this is true?", "why would the perpetrator even be interested in someone like that anyway", etc.
We are often quick to place judgement and responsibility on the victim, and as a result only about 1 in 5 rapes perpetrated against women, and significantly less against men, are ever reported to police. On college campuses, these numbers are even worse: More than 90% of assaults go unreported.
Cost of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault costs the U.S. ~$127 billion dollars a year. That's more than the cost of physical assaults, murder, and drunk driving. Each sexual assault costs ~$150,000 when factoring in medical bills, psychiatric treatment, lost productivity, and criminal justice services. It's clear that sexual assault places an enormous burden on victims, as well as the general public in regards to cost and lost productivity.
At Hit Reset, we want to empower survivors of assault to reclaim their purpose and sense of self by strengthening them physically and emotionally so that they can assimilate back into normal life.