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home : opinion : letters to the editor May 24, 2016

4/4/2013 11:44:00 AM
Indiana Second In Nation For Sexual Assault Crimes

Recently, there have been several news stories in our area about the arrest of perpetrators for crimes such as sexual misconduct and rape.
On several of the news outlets, there has been outrage and conversations about the increase in these types of crimes, especially when the victim is a child.  Unfortunately, these ugly events only highlight a horrifying trend in Indiana.  
In a 2010 study by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Assault Committee, Indiana ranked second in the nation for sexual assault crimes.  The survey estimates that 1 out of every 5 Hoosier women have been a victim of rape in their lifetime. It further estimates 44 percent of women and 26 percent of men in Indiana have experienced other forms of sexual violence.
The study’s most astonishing findings involved the children of our State.  For example, more than 17 percent of Indiana high school girls reported forced sexual intercourse as compared to the national average of 10.5 percent.  In Indiana, 48 percent of students in grades 7 thru 12 report experiencing verbal, physical or online sexual harassment in school. Nearly 93 percent of juvenile victims know their attacker with 34.2 percent being family members and 58.7 percent are acquaintances.  Unfortunately, less than 1 in 10 students report the harassment to an adult.
Warning signs of sexual violence or harassment include loss of interest in school, declining grades, physical illness, sleep disturbances, change in social circles, testing of rules, change in appearance and grooming, and in some cases attempted suicide.
The results of sexual violence can have long-term effects for the individual and the community.  Almost 50 percent of rape victims lose their jobs, or are forced to quit, because of the crime’s severity.  Victims of sexual violence are
• 3 times more likely to suffer depression,
• 6 times more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder,
• 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol,
• 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and
• 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.  
Unfortunately, only one quarter of all convicted rapists ever go to prison.  Another quarter receives reduced sentences in local jails, where the average sentence is 11 months.
Sexual violence is morally wrong, and is a crime.  Individuals, families and communities need appropriate and accurate information to help promote safety and healing.
In 2010, Indiana’s Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Council developed a series of goals and priorities to reduce the rate of sexual assault across the state.  With a focus on collaborative partnership with the community, law and judicial agencies, health care agencies, schools and national entities, these strategies will reduce the incidence of sexual violence in Indiana.  For more information, go to http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/Indiana_Sexual_Violence_Prevention_Plan-Section_1.pdf
Locally, there are several resources available for victims of sexual assault.  A victim does not have to take the healing journey alone!  The Beaman Home operates a 24/7 Crisis Hotline, 877-725-9363, with trained advocates to talk to any time, day or night.  Warsaw Police Department’s Victims Services can be reached at 574-372-9539. The Victim Assistance Coordinator of the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Victim Assistance Program can be reached at 574-372-2419.  Any of these programs will be able to provide support, guidance, and encouragement to anyone who is pulling together the pieces of their lives after a violent crime has been committed against them.

Kathy Kostro, Beaman Home Board Member
Stacie Bobeck, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Kosciusko Community Hospital





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