In honor of the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, our attorneys at Davis Levin Livingston are dedicating extra time to raising awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault and how it can be mitigated. We are proud to support survivors year-round through our legal advocacy efforts, and this April, we invite you to join us in taking action.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is an umbrella term for a few different types of nonconsensual sexual contact and behavior, such as:
- Attempted rape
- Marital rape
- Unwanted sexual touching/fondling
- Forcing sodomy or object penetration
- Forcing or coercing a victim to perform a sexual act
It is easy to get sexual assault confused with sexual harassment, as they often overlap. In simple terms, sexual assault is any nonconsensual sexual contact or behavior, often of a physical nature; sexual harassment is any type of verbal or physical sexual attention that is unwanted by the victim.
National Sexual Assault Statistics
Per data from RAINN, about 1 out of every 6 American women has been a victim of either attempted or completed rape. Likewise, 1 out of every 33 American men has experienced sexual violence. RAINN further reports that 8 out of every 10 cases of sexual violence are committed by people known by the victim, such as an acquaintance, friend, classmate, coworker, religious leader, doctor, or current or former romantic/intimate partner.
For the state of Hawaii alone, KHON 2 reported that 1 in 5 women will be victims of rape, with many being assaulted in their own homes. Dating apps and the internet, in particular, have had an impact on the prevalence of sexual assault, retired Honolulu Police Department lieutenant Philip Lavarias told KHON 2.
Groups Disproportionately Affected by Sexual Assault
Sexual assault rates are the highest among indigenous peoples, as they are twice as likely to be the victims of sexual assault compared to any other race. According to data from RAINN, 41% of sexual assaults against indigenous peoples are committed by strangers, 34% by acquaintances, and 25% by a family member or intimate partner.
Military sexual violence is also a major issue in the U.S., with the vast majority of such incidents going unreported. RAINN estimates that about 18,900 service members are sexually assaulted each year. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that 6.2% of active-duty service women and 0.7% of active-duty service men experienced some form of sexual assault in 2018.
Other disproportionately affected groups include women of college age (18 to 24 years old), transgender college students, and incarcerated individuals.
How You Can Help
To do your part in preventing sexual assault, be an active bystander. If you see something that does not look right, such as a person attempting to get an inebriated person somewhere alone, intervene and help the inebriated person find their friends and get home safe.
There are other ways to show victims of sexual harassment that you C.A.R.E.:
- Create a distraction: If you believe you can do so safely, try to distract the perpetrator to prevent the scenario from escalating.
- Ask directly: You can also interrupt the perpetrator by talking directly to the person being harassed, such as by asking them if they are all right and offering to accompany them.
- Refer to an authority: Another option is to have an authority figure -- such as a security guard, bartender, or employee -- step in to diffuse the situation and protect the victim.
- Enlist others: If you want to step in but do not feel safe doing so alone, ask other bystanders to join you in halting the harassment.
Victims of sexual assault do not have to stand alone. When we work together, we can support them and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. If you are a survivor of sexual assault in Hawaii, our compassionate attorneys at Davis Levin Livingston will advocate for your rights and fight to obtain you justice against the perpetrator. Call (808) 740-0633 or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.