Washington—The Senate today passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in support of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
The resolution was cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
“Talking about sexual assault is difficult but necessary if we’re going to empower victims to speak out,” said Senator Feinstein. “A sexual assault occurs almost every minute in the United States, but most will go unreported. Our resolution will help raise awareness, combat this problem and lift the stigma that prevents too many victims from coming forward.”
“Facing the trauma of sexual assault can seem insurmountable, and survivors deserve the comfort of knowing they are not alone. So it’s important that we take steps to bring attention to the services and support available to survivors, honor them by doing all we can to prevent future offenses. This resolution shines a bright light on the scourge of these ugly crimes and encourages communities to come together to support survivors,” said Senator Grassley.
“The evidence is clear that leadership is necessary to end sexual violence. We're grateful for the consistent leadership of Senator Feinstein and Senator Grassley in addressing the needs of survivors and supporting prevention programs. As the primary sponsors of this resolution honoring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, they send a strong message to survivors that they are not alone and elevate the needs of rape crisis centers in the national conversation,” said Terri Poore, policy director at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
“It is vital to recognize and raise our country's consciousness of addressing sexual assault in all its forms, especially in culturally specific communities,” said Condencia Brade, strategic director at the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault
“April, or Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, is an important opportunity to share hope and empathy with survivors. We must continue our work to advance legislation that removes barriers that survivors face in pursuing justice. We look forward to working with Congress to increase survivors’ access to trauma-informed care in the aftermath of an assault, to protect children on the internet, and to ensure that every survivor who chooses to report has access to the criminal justice system,” said RAINN.
Full text of the resolution follows:
Recognizing and supporting the goals and ideals of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
Whereas the Senate is committed to the awareness, prevention, and deterrence of sexual violence affecting individuals in the United States;
Whereas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (referred to in this preamble as the “CDC”), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience sexual or physical violence and stalking by an intimate partner;
Whereas, according to the 2020 Child Maltreatment Report of the Department of Health and Human Services, child protection service agencies throughout the United States substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 57,963 children under 18 years of age were victims of sexual abuse that year;
Whereas, according to the 2015 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men who have experienced a completed or attempted rape experienced it for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17.
Whereas sexual violence is a burden for many individuals who serve in the Armed Forces, and the Department of Defense estimates that approximately 20,500 members of the Armed Forces, including approximately 13,000 women and 7,500 men, experienced some form of contact or penetrative sexual assault during 2018;
Whereas, due to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, including mandatory stay at home orders, the needs of sexual assault victims have become even more complex and challenging;
Whereas sexual assault does not discriminate on any basis and can affect any individual in the United States;
Whereas sexual violence may take many forms, including—
Whereas studies have suggested that survivors of color face unique challenges and more should be done to better understand the impact of sexual violence on communities of color;
Whereas studies have suggested that the rate at which American Indians and Alaska Natives experience sexual violence is significantly higher than for other populations in the United States;
Whereas, according to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, in addition to the immediate physical and emotional costs, sexual assault has numerous adverse consequences, which can include post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, major depression, homelessness, eating disorders, and suicide;
Whereas, according to a 2019 CDC survey, the average cost of rape is $122,461 for each victim over the victim’s lifetime, totaling a $3,100,000,000,000 economic burden for survivors of rape in the United States;
Whereas, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, an average of only 23 percent of rapes or sexual assaults in the United States were reported to law enforcement agencies between 2019 and 2020;
Whereas many sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement agencies, and many States have restrictive criminal statutes of limitations, which enable many perpetrators to evade punishment for their crimes;
Whereas advances in deoxyribonucleic acid (commonly known as “DNA”) technology have enabled law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute the perpetrators in tens of thousands of previously unsolved sexual assault cases;
Whereas incarceration of sexual assault perpetrators can prevent perpetrators from committing additional crimes;
Whereas, according to a March 2021 survey by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, 45 percent of rape crisis centers lack a therapist on staff and 76 percent of programs had an increased demand for services in the past year;
Whereas national, State, territorial, and Tribal coalitions, community-based rape crisis centers, culturally specific sexual assault organizations and other organizations across the United States are committed to—
Whereas thousands of volunteers and staff at rape crisis centers, State coalitions against sexual assault, culturally specific sexual assault organizations and nonprofit organizations across the United States play an important role in making crisis hotlines and other services available to survivors of sexual assault;
Whereas important partnerships have been formed among criminal and juvenile justice agencies, health professionals, public health workers, educators, first responders, and victim service providers;
Whereas free, confidential help is available to all victims and survivors of sexual assault through—
Whereas the victim service programs of RAINN, including the National Sexual Assault Hotline, help more than 300,000 survivors and their loved ones each year;
Whereas the Department of Defense provides the Safe Helpline, Safe HelpRoom, and Safe Helpline mobile application, each of which provide support and help to members of the Department of Defense community—
Whereas individual and collective efforts reflect the dream of the people of the United States—
Whereas April 2022 is recognized as “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month”: Now, therefore, be it