What You Can Do
Just a few minutes of your time could change the life of someone you know.
Spread the word
Help more people get the healing and justice they need.
- Tell friends who live or work in Jackson County about this program (“any hospital, any time, free”). Encourage them to contact us if they’d like more information.
- Consider emailing our web address to 3 or more people you know and asking them to pass it on. To include a Jackson County SART flyer (Adobe PDF), click here.
- You can post a SART flyer at your community center, place of worship or business. We also have magnets you can stick up in bathrooms, on your car, etc.
- If you would like us to speak to your business, professional organization or faith group or include an item in your newsletter, let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.
Say the word
The American Medical Association calls sexual assault “a silent, violent epidemic.” Sexual assault is not always an easy topic to bring up. But what we can’t talk about, we can’t fix.
Get the facts
Many people never tell anyone they’ve been sexually assaulted. Often they’re afraid they won’t be believed or they’ll be blamed for what happened. Sometimes they’re ashamed.
You can make a big difference in their lives simply by learning how common misconceptions about sexual assault distort the way we see this crime and the people who survive it.
Your knowledge and understanding can encourage survivors to come forward for care, to consider reporting their assault to police and to start reclaiming their lives. You can also have an impact on our community’s willingness to bring assailants to justice.
For a look at some myths and facts about sexual assault, click here.
Host an informational gathering for friends and colleagues; hold a garage sale and donate part of the proceeds; introduce us to local businesses and individuals who might be able to support our work; donate creative or technical services; consider joining our board.
Your can make a crucial difference in the lives of women, children and men all over Jackson County.
Myths and Facts About Sexual Assault
Myths and misconceptions about sexual assault have a devastating effect on our community. Because myths shift blame for rape from the rapist to the victim, many survivors never report the crime against them. Partly because of this and partly because myths affect juries’ deliberations, more than 97% of rape victims will never see their attacker arrested, convicted and sent to jail, according to a U. S. Senate Judiciary report.[i] Since sexual assailants average 8 – 12 victims each, that leaves all of us vulnerable. [ii]
It’s important that we face the facts.
MYTH: Sexual assault isn’t a problem in our community.
FACT: Unfortunately it is. More than 12,000 adult women in Jackson County are survivors of forcible rape according to Rape in Oregon: A Report to the State (2003).[iii] The authors warn that the figures are “almost certainly an underestimate of Oregon’s rape problem,” let alone its problem with sexual violence more generally, since the statistics do not include female children and adolescents, male victims, drug or alcohol-facilitated rapes, or other kinds of traumatic sexual assaults.
In the past five years the Jackson County SART has cared for women, children and men from all income levels and ethnic groups. They have ranged in age from 3 years old to 92.
Sexual assault is so common in our society (as well as so little recognized) that the American Medical Association calls it “America’s silent, violent epidemic.”[iv] It is commonly estimated that one in every four women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. [v] So will many men.
MYTH: To stay safe avoid strangers and dark, remote places.
FACT: Studies show that 7 in 10 women who reported being raped or sexually assaulted knew their attackers.[vi] More than half these crimes took place in the survivor’s home or at the home of a friend, relative or neighbor.[vii]
MYTH: Many rapes are impulsive, as when a man gets led on by short skirts or teasing behavior.
FACT: Most rapes are planned in advance. [viii] Interviews with convicted rapists reveal that victims are chosen for their vulnerability, not for the way they dress, underscoring the fact that rape is about power, not sex. Rapists are skilled at gaining victims’ trust and maneuvering them into vulnerable positions. They also work to set up an alibi in advance. So “Come in while I get my coat” translates in court to “I invited her in and she came in willingly; she knew exactly what would happen.”
MYTH: A person who’s raped while drunk or stoned was asking for it.
FACT: No one “asks” to be raped, just as no one asks to be murdered or robbed. It may show poor judgment to leave a window unlocked, but the break-in is still illegal. We don’t let the burglar go free.
Under Oregon law, having sex with someone who’s incapacitated by alcohol or drugs is not an opportunity – it’s a crime.
MYTH: If a person doesn’t fight back, it isn’t rape.
FACT: Survivors of sexual violence are just that: survivors. They do whatever they feel at the time will help keep them alive. Not fighting back may be a conscious choice to try and avoid death or severe injury. It may also result from being immobilized by “date rape drugs” or by the shock of being attacked. When a victim knows the attacker, as most do, the shock of seeing an acquaintance turn into a predator can be quite literally stunning.
MYTH: Women often falsely accuse men of sexual assault.
FACT: The Portland police have found that more people falsely report that their car has been stolen (2.6%) than falsely report they’ve been raped (1.6%).[ix] In fact most survivors of sexual violence, often fearing they won’t be believed, don’t report this crime at all. In Oregon, an estimated 90% of female survivors never report their attack to police.[x]
MYTH: Men who rape other men are gay.
FACT: Almost all men who sexually assault other men (and boys) are heterosexual. Anger and a need for power rather than sexual orientation drive these assaults, just as they do assaults on women. In fact it’s often a fear of homosexuality that fuels some straight men’s attacks on gay men.
By the time they are 18, one in six boys will have been sexually assaulted (as well as one in four girls).[xi] It can be particularly difficult for men to admit to being assaulted, since the myth that “real men” don’t get raped leads straight men to fear they’ll be labeled as gay.
MYTH: It’s just sex. People get over it.
FACT: Rape isn’t about sex. It’s about using sex as a weapon to humiliate and control someone, and the consequences can be severe. The AMA finds that 80% of rape survivors suffer ongoing physical or psychological problems after their attack, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[xii] They are also six times more likely to attempt suicide than are survivors of other crimes.[xiii] The trauma is just as severe, sometimes more so, for survivors who know the person who raped them.
Fortunately family, friends and community members who believe sexual assault survivors and who support them can help them heal.
[v] As Kilpatrick and Ruggiero note, accurate statistics about sexual assault rates are difficult to obtain. This is partly because of low reporting rates and partly because studies’ methodologies and definitions of terms often differ: whether statistics come from police reports or interviews, for example, and whether these interviews are done in person and in private or by phone.
Generally accepted numbers are one in four women nationwide will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime; one in six will be a victim of attempted or completed rape. National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.
[xi] David Finkelhor, “Sexual Abuse in a National Survey of Adult Men and Women,” 1990. For studies confirming Finkelhor’s findings, see J. Hopper, “Child Abuse Statistics, Research and Resources” (1997), available at www.jimhopper.com.
[xii] “Strategies for the treatment and prevention of sexual assault,” 1995. Available at www.ama-assn.org. “Populations Reports: Ending Violence Against Women” puts PTSD rate among survivors at “at least 50%.” Populations Programs Information Program, Center for Communication Programs. The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. December 1999.
Help a Friend
Having supportive friends and family members can make a difference in how a survivor heals. There are several things you can do…
- This is one of the most important ways you can help. Some survivors will want to talk right away. Others will need time. Rather than press them for details or ask a lot of questions, let them decide what to tell you. Try not to judge or interrupt with advice. Just listen.
- Very few people ever lie about being sexually assaulted. Many survivors never tell anyone at all; they’re too ashamed or afraid they’ll be disbelieved or blamed. And hard as it is for a woman to confide in you, it can be even harder for a male survivor or a child. Simply hearing “I believe you” from someone they trust can be an important step in their healing.
- Don’t blame or second-guess your friend (“why did you leave the party with him?” or “why didn’t you scream?”). Nobody “asks” to be raped. Many survivors already blame themselves. Help them understand that the perpetrator is the one responsible (“Yes, you got drunk. But you would never have been raped if there hadn’t been a rapist in the room.” “You’re here. You’re safe now. That means you did what you needed to do to survive.”).
- Ask how you can help. Sexual assault takes away a person’s sense of control, so allow your friend to make her or his own decisions. But you can offer to accompany them to the hospital or help them get information.
- Respect their privacy and don’t share what they have told you with anyone else unless they ask you to. Let your friend decide whom to confide in.
- Understand that your friend has been through a traumatic experience and may act differently after the assault. Recovery can take a long time; they won’t be “over it” in a few weeks or months or even years. Learning about survivors’ common reactions to an assault may help.
- Take care of yourself as well. You will likely feel a whole range of strong and conflicting emotions; these may even include anger at the survivor or yourself as well as at the perpetrator. To avoid burying these feelings or expressing them in hurtful ways, it can be important to talk about them. However the survivor is not the person you should do this with. Resources are available for you too: call (541) 779-HELP/4357.
Jackson County SART in Recent News: Change That Can’t Wait
“Teaching Sex Assault Prevention in School”
The Jefferson Exchange (JPR) – August 22, 2016
“It changed my life …..” (SASH and SANE programs)
YouTube: Women’s Foundation of Oregon 2016 Grantmaking Ballot
- One of three finalists selected from across the state
“Oregon detective pioneers new sexual assault reporting program” (YHOP)
National Public Radio, September 22, 2016
- Listen to segment and read overview at:
For more news, visit our Jackson County SART Facebook page