The Truth about Sexual Crimes
The news thrives on scandal, especially sexual scandal. Although a great portion of this news is just trashy celebrity gossip, there are always horrible stories that surface about sex crimes. And, as many readers may know, there is a new slew of sex crimes that has everyone talking: the allegations of the molestation of five underage girls by Josh Duggar of TLC’s show, 19 Kids and Counting.
Duggar, now 27, admitted to committing these crimes as a 15 year old. In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, Duggar said: “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends.”
Hearing about these tragic stories is never good news, but we can use these stories as a platform to have a very important conversation about sex crimes.
There is a lot of misinformation that becomes tangled in among the gossip, victim blaming, and shame surrounding crimes of this nature. It is important to be both informed and compassionate in our approach.
Below you will find a number of points that may help you sort through the confusing and horrible mess of sexual crimes.
What is a Sexual Crime?
According to Find Law, the general definition of a sexual crime is that which “generally involve[s] illegal or coerced sexual conduct against another individual.”
Without going into too much graphic detail, these sorts of crimes can range from indecent exposure to serious rape. Unfortunately, the definition of sexual crime is so general because there are so many different kinds. The victims of these crimes can be any age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
Where do Sexual Crimes Happen?
Oftentimes, there is a misconception that sexual crimes only take place when a girl is walking home, drunk and alone, at 3 AM.
However, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, roughly 80% of cases of sexual assault or rape were perpetrated by someone the victim knew.
The truth is that these crimes usually happen in places that should be safe spots in the community, often perpetrated by acquaintances, family members, friends, caregivers, or community leaders.
Of course, there are cases of attacks by strangers, but these are not the majority.
Why do Sexual Crimes Happen?
There is no easy answer to this question. At first glance, it might seem that these crimes are caused by attraction or lust, but this is not the case. Although sexual desire might be mixed in as part of the intent behind the action, sexual crimes are about power and control, not sex.
What Happens to the Perpetrator of a Sexual Crime?
Often times, very little. According to RAINN, only 61% of rapes or sexual assaults are reported.
Here are a few additional statistics from the site:
- If the rape is reported to police, there is a 50.8% chance that an arrest will be made.
- If an arrest is made, there is an 80% chance of prosecution.
- If there is a prosecution, there is a 58% chance of a felony conviction.
- If there is a felony conviction, there is a 69% chance the convict will spend time in jail.
- Factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% of rapists — 1 out of 16 — will ever spend a day in jail. 15 out of 16 will walk free.
A known perpetrator will become a registered sex offender. You can find a list of sexual offenders that live in your area by visiting this site.
How Can We Help a Survivor of a Sexual Crime?
The most important thing you can do for your family member, friend, or child who is the survivor of a sexual crime is to be supportive. Being supportive means listening to them, validating their experience, and assisting them in their healing process.
Each circumstance will be different, and it is important to let the survivor have control over their own approach. Some will want counseling or legal action, but others might not. Keep your advice to yourself, and instead make thoughtful suggestions. Do not hover or try to keep tabs on everything they do, but also make sure they realize that you are there for them.
If you are really stuck, you can call a hotline like this one, and speak with a counselor about your concerns.
What Do I Do if I am a Survivor of a Sexual Crime?
It is completely up to you. There are many different options that can cater to your specific situation.
Immediately after an attack, you have the option of going to a hospital to gather evidence and get any medical attention you may need. If possible, try to go to a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Hospital. Google search for “SANE hospitals” in your area.
Even years after a sexual crime, you can report the case to the police and take legal action against the perpetrator. At any point, you can also speak with a counselor.
Some survivors may choose to take these routes, and others might not.
If you want to learn more about available resources, if you would like to go over your options, or if you would simply like to talk to someone about your experiences, feel free to call an anonymous, 24 hour hotline. You can speak with someone online or on the phone by calling 800-656-HOPE (4673).
If you are ever in an emergency situation, call 911.
How Can I Take a Stand Against Sexual Crimes?
There are a number of ways to help survivors of sexual crimes, prevent future attacks, and improve the situation in our society.
1. Become Informed
As the saying goes, the first step to solving any problem is admitting that there is one. Sexual crimes are often hidden, sometimes creating the impression that they don’t happen that often. However, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, a sexual assault happens every 107 seconds in the USA.
Do your research and learn about the prevalence of sexual crimes.
2. Speak Up
There are usually red flags that point to the possibility of abuse or sexual violence. If a person or situation makes you afraid or uncomfortable, tell someone and avoid the situation. If you feel concerned about your family member, friend, or child, do not ignore that feeling. It is better to be safe than sorry.
There are also countless ways to give your time for this cause.
• Become a volunteer counselor for a rape crisis hotline
• Run/Walk a 5k that supports a local rape crisis center
• Host a car wash or bake sale and donate the profits to a rape crisis center or charity
• Get involved with an activist group on your campus
Despite the dark tone of this article, there’s no need to be discouraged. For every violent and evil crime, there are so many more examples of love and hope. Awareness of sexual crimes is spreading rapidly, and with that, new organizations are popping up everywhere, helping those who are in need.
About the Author: Norah Kearney
I am currently a senior at Webster University of St. Louis, Missouri. I’m working on my BA in English with a focus on creative writing. I plan to use my degree for writing, editing, teaching, or a bit of all three.
Read more from and about the author: Norah’s WiLab Profile
Originally posted 2015-06-02 12:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter