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3,493 tweets and counting have used the recently coined #ididnotreport to vocalize their experience with sexual assault. London Feminist coined the term only as late as March 12 and already many survivors have used Twitter to speak on an issue where they had otherwise remained silent. Many have cited past negative experiences with police, blame or poor treatment from peers, fear, and discrimination among other reasons for choosing not to report their assaults. The tweets are a powerful reminder of just how prevalent and harmful sexual assault is, and the many barriers survivors can face in achieving any justice. For proof of the far reaching consequences of sexual assault and the myths surrounding it, look no further than #ididnotreport.

Twitter Movement Highlights Underreporting #ididnotreport [SAFER Tumblr]

#ididnotreport #webelieveyou [London Feminist]

Archive: #ididnotreport [The Archivist]

The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters recently conducted a poll to gauge men’s attitudes towards women’s equality, and how men can better prevent violence against women. As reported by the Huffington Post, some of the answers reveal that a significant percentage of men, of the ones polled here at least, still possess all too common victim-blaming attitudes when it comes to rape and violence against women. 40% of the respondents agreed with the statement that: “If a woman wears provocative clothing, she’s putting herself at risk for rape” and 52% agreed that: “Most women could leave a violent relationship if they really wanted to.” When it comes to rape and domestic violence, these are perhaps two of the biggest prevailing myths, myths that make it difficult for women facing abuse to seek help.

Some answers reveal healthier attitudes, however. The statement, “Men and boys should speak out against violence against women” received a 9 out of 10 in terms of importance and 56% believed that men and boys are more aware than they were five years ago of the issues surrounding violence agaisnt women. The poll also says that “95% of men feel that violence against women and girls is a concern to them”, and “99% agree that ‘men can personally make a difference in promoting healthy, respectful, non-violent relationships.'”

The poll often takes a yes or no, agree/disagree, essentially black and white format. It is incredibly difficult to gauge attitudes towards violence in a poll, but it would be interesting to see a poll that used a different approach. Perhaps the men’s answers would be different if they were asked about violence against men and boys, or violence that is gender-based but not necessarily against women.

Nonetheless, understanding men’s attitudes towards violence against women is crucial in fighting such violence. As reported by the Huffington Post, the ACWS hopes to take the results to make an impact for the better:

“This is where we’re at,” ACWS provincial co-ordinator Jan Reimer told Postmedia News. “We’ve got a realistic appraisal here, so now let’s take what we know and see how we can make a difference to make things better.”

Full results of the poll here

Thanks to Andrew for the tip.

Violence Against Women: 40 Per Cent Of Men In Alberta Poll Say Women ‘Put Themselves At Risk For Rape’ [Huffington Post]

The New York Times has just published an article reporting on some key findings of a nation-wide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. The representative sample surveyed consisted of 16,507 adult respondents.

The study’s findings report that sexual assault is drastically more prevalent that previously thought. Whereas the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reported last year that about 270,000 Americans had experienced sexual violence, the CDC’s findings suggest that 1.3 million women were raped in the past year alone. The study found that between 1 and 2 percent of men have been raped, often when they were under the age of 11. It found that nearly one in five women, almost 20 percent of the population, have experienced sexual assault.

Some other statistics from the report:

  • 28 percent of male victims of rape were first assaulted when they were 10 years old or younger
  • 12 percent of female rape victims were assaulted when they were 10 or younger; almost half of female victims were raped before they turned 18; about 80 percent of rape victims were raped before age 25
  • about 35 percent of women who had been raped as minors were also raped as adults
  • more than half of female rape victims had been raped by an intimate partner, and 40 percent had been raped by an acquaintance; more than half of men who had been raped said the assailant was an acquaintance

The article points to some of the mental and physical health problems correlated with having suffered sexual assault, such as increased chances of having post-traumatic stress disorder and diabetes.

The article also links to a page of detailed and professionally reviewed information on rape published by the New York Times.

This study, conducted by a respected and widely recognized public health agency, is invaluable in establishing the prevalence of sexual assault in the United States, and by extension, our society. Numbers such as these indicate that the problem is much more pervasive, and thus even more pressing concern to be addressed. In a world where information informs action, such studies take the first step and lead the way for more work to be done.

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