Sexual Assault


  • Sexual abuse or assault is a crime.  Sexual violence is an act of torture. 
  • The perpetrator is often someone the victim knows:  boyfriend, date, spouse, family member, father, mother, brother, sister, other relative, acquaintance, neighbor, family friend, teacher, or others familiar to the victim.  
  • There is no excuse for anyone to force or manipulate another person into sexual contact, or talk to them in a sexually-inappropriate way.  There is no excuse or justification for the action of the perpetrator.  The perpetrator always has the ability to stop and withdraw. 

  • “If you give a woman, or a man for that matter, without his or her knowledge a drug, and they have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape.  And I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape.”  (President Barack Obama speaking of Bill Cosby’s sexual misconduct allegations and the issue of drugs, consent and rape, CBS This Morning, July 16, 2015)
  • Marriage does not permit one spouse to sexually abuse the other spouse.  
  • The violation is never the fault of a child who is sexually assaulted.  
  • The victim’s ability to forgive does not spare the perpetrator justice of the law.  
  • Victims of sexual assault may feel angry, depressed, numb, fearful, anxious, sad, on an emotional roller coaster, fearful of people, have flashbacks of the event, and have a difficult time trusting others, including God.  This abuse can destroy trust in all other relationships.
  • Spokane has many services for sex offenders, including treatment and housing.

  • Rape Victim and Rapist Speak Out.  The victim of a rape said, “We must stop treating sexual violence as a women’s issue.” 

    More than 20 years did not erase the vivid memories of every last second of her brutal assault. "I didn't realize right away what it was. It took me a long time to put into context that this had indeed been rape, because I had misconceptions. I was a 16-year-old girl that thought that perpetrators were armed, masked lunatics that lurk in a bush and jump at you. I didn't think it could be your boyfriend,” Thorsis said.

    In 2005, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Thordis e-mailed Tom Stranger, nine years after the assault, to burden him with the pain he alone caused her.  Tom unwaveringly owned up to his actions. 

    Thordis continues, “If more men understood that any sex of any kind without consent is assault, there wouldn't be so many victims….We tend to scrutinize the wrong person. We tend to pour over the details of survivors and question, 'What was she wearing or drinking or thinking?'  As opposed to asking, 'What was the person responsible for the violence thinking?’”

    The rapist Tom said, “What I did that night was - it was a hugely self-absorbed and hurtful act.  It was nothing other than rape….There was a sense that I had a right to sex, and of course, it wasn't sex….Far too often the responsibility is attributed to female survivors of sexual violence and not to the males who enact it."

    Thordis and Tom have co-authored the book “South of Forgiveness - A true story of rape and responsibility.”  Tom took part in writing the book, because he feels a responsibility to educate men who find themselves in similar situations that, what he did was wrong.  He will not profit from the book; but, his share of the proceeds go to a shelter for sexual assault victims in Iceland.  (Source:  Victim, attacker share candid story of rape and reconciliation in "South of Forgiveness,” Reporter Charles D’Agata, CBS News, May 18, 2017; and “Our Story of Rape and Reconciliation,” a TED Talk by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, October 2016.  In this extraordinary talk, Elva and Stranger move through a years-long chronology of shame and silence, and invite us to discuss the omnipresent global issue of sexual violence in a new, honest way.)

Statistics
  • More than half of sexual assault victims are children under the age of 18, and girls are abused twice as often as boys.
  • One in every 5 women in college is a victim of a sexual assault; but only 11-20% report the crime to authorities.  (President Barack Obama’s Administration, CBS This Morning, January 2015; and "Girls and Sex," Peggy Orenstein, CBS This Morning, March 29, 2016)

  • One in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. This occurs on small, large and prestigious colleges.  (CBS News, May 2, 2014)

  • Most incidents of rape among college students involve the consumption of alcohol or drugs.   Drugs and alcohol impede judgment and the ability to react and think clearly.  In addition, date rape drugs are dropped into alcohol. 
    (Source:  “Protecting Students From Sexual Assault, The U.S. Department of Justice, 2016 study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics); Zinzow, et al. (2011), Krebs, et al. (2016), and Fisher, B. S., Daigle, L. E., Cullen, F. T., & Turner, M. G. (2003). “Reporting sexual victimization to the police and others: Results from a national-level study of college women [external link].” Criminal Justice and Behavior, 30(1), 6-38)
  • One in 6 men experiences sexual abuse by age 18.  ("Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim," Centers for Disease Control, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 430-438, S.R. Dube, R.F. Anda, C.L. Whitfield, 2005) 
  • Sexual assaults in the military are disturbing, and unacceptable.  The U.S. Defense Department says that a woman in the military is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than she is to be killed by enemy fire.  Justice must be served, meting out appropriate punishments for people who have committed crimes—sexual assaults, rapes—and removed from the military.

    3,000 sexual assaults are reported every year, but only a handful of them ever go to trial, and even fewer result in convictions.  Of those convictions, 1/3 of those convicted are still serving in the military.  (3,191 sex assault cases were reported in 2011; and 3,158 were reported in 2010.) 
     
    19,000 sexual assaults are suspected,
    but never reported because the victims are afraid to come forward.  The victims fear no one will listen to their claims, and they will not receive justice.   A victim needs to know that she will be able to prosecute the criminal who has attacked her.  Criminals must be brought to justice and held accountable and more transparency in the system.
    (Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Office, Armed Services Subcommittee, CBS News, March 8, 2013;
    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, NBC Nightly News, January 18, 2012)

  • Unwanted sexual conduct among servicewomen.  The Pentagon’s figures (May 2013) show sexual assaults are on the rise in the military.  The Pentagon released new figures showing a continuing rise in sexual assaults in the military.  A 6% increase from 3,192 (in 2011) to 3,374 reports of sexual assault in fiscal year 2012, compared to the previous year.  Estimates of the actual numbers of what is a notoriously under-reported crime go much higher.  According to Pentagon figures an estimated 26,000 service women experienced unwanted sexual contact – up from 19,300 two years ago (2010)—a number the Pentagon says is unacceptable.    (CBS Evening News, May 6, 2013) 

  • Sexual assaults in the Peace Corps.  Nearly 20% of volunteers suffered some type of sexual assault during their service.  More than half of those experienced repeat assaults.  Some survivors were blamed or punished.  Nearly half did not report the assaults.  The Peace Corps is a government agency.  Many Peace Corps personnel accused in sexual assaults were allowed to resign, instead of being processed; and then allowed to reapply to the agency. Transparency and reforms are being made at this time.  ("Peace Corps - Sex Assaults," CBS News, November 30, 2015)   
What You Can Do
  • If you are a victim of rape,

    • Immediately after a rape, tell someone where you are going, and go to a safe place.



    • Call or text 9-1-1, if this is an Emergency.



    • Call Spokane’s Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, or find one person you trust, and tell them.



    • Go to the Emergency Room of any hospital as soon as possible, within 48 hours, and request a rape exam.  A specially trained nurse will use a Jane Doe Rape Kit to gather physical evidence of the assault (storing needed samples of hair, body fluids, etc.), as well as photographs.  A number will be placed on the envelope holding the evidence.  Police will not open the envelope unless the victim decides to press charges.  (Federal Violence Against Women Act)



    • File a police report, even if you are not ready to file charges.



    • Call Lutheran Social Services Sexual Assault Center 
      
24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line:  (509) 624-7273             


  • If you are being sexually abused by anyone, call Spokane's Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, or find one person you trust, and tell them.
  • Carry a whistle.   Always be aware of your surroundings and protect yourself.  
  • Help educate citizens of the need to report rapes and assaults, including date rapes and assaults by perpetrators the victim knows.  
  • Women, men and children who have been raped should go to the Emergency Room of any hospital as soon as possible, and request a rape exam.  A specially trained nurse will use a Jane Doe Rape Kit to gather physical evidence of the assault (storing needed samples of hair, body fluids, etc.), as well as photographs.  A number will be placed on the envelope holding the evidence.  Police will not open the envelope unless the victim decides to press charges.  (Federal Violence Against Women Act)  
  • Invite police officers to teach self-defense classes for graduating high school seniors, before going to college.

  • Victims of sexual abuse should seek counseling with a minister or professional counselor.  Victims can heal and overcome this suffering.   Healing from abuse will relieve the victim’s pain and suffering and bring renewed happiness.   Victims must be willing to let others help—family, friends, counselors and church
  • Encourage schools to teach the legal and emotional consequences of sexual assault in their sex education classes
  • Remember that background checks do not always catch those who might harm children.  Most abusers don’t have a criminal background, and are often put into positions of trust in a child’s life. 

  • Sexual abuse is everyone’s business.  Men in particular must take a stand and begin talking about abuse.  Men in business and government must stand up and defend their wives, daughters, sons, sisters and mothers.  Men must also teach their sons and other men to respect women.  
  • Ask men to help prevent rape.   Sexual assault or violence against women or domestic violence are learned behaviors, and they can be unlearned.   Ask men to develop prevention skills.  
  • Help establish and enforce a “Community Standard of Decency.”  Pornography drives sexual deviancy, violence against women, and child sexual abuse.  (See “Addictions/Pornography—Understanding the Laws and Your Rights” on this website.) 

  • See that all sex traffickers are prosecuted to the fullest extent.  Compare the penalty and supervision for sex offenders in different states, and encourage our legislators to impose the highest penalties on those who prey on children.    
  • In recent years, Connecticut proposed that sex offenders be required to register any e-mail addresses, instant message addresses, or other Internet identifiers with the state police; and those who don’t report the information would face up to 5 years in prison.  Connecticut also wants to make it a felony for any person to misrepresent his or her age on the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. 

  • When the statute of limitations for rape and kidnapping had run out on a crime that was committed 25 years earlier, the Deputy District Attorney Eric Scarborough in Huntington Beach, California, charged "Torture," because torture carries the possibility of life imprisonment.  There is no statute of limitations, bringing an opportunity to bring justice to the victims.  ("Live to Tell," 48 Hours and CBS Evening News, January 2016) 
  • Teach Teens to fight back.   One in four girls are date-raped by the time they graduate from college.  Teach girls and women to “Just Yell Fire” to prevent attacks.  Download FREE.  http://JustYellFire.com
  • In the Event of Rape.   In all 50 states, the law says that if you are forced into sex by anyone (boyfriend, husband, intimate partner, teacher, or anyone else)—that is called rape.  It is a crime for a husband to force his wife to have sex.  These women can come forward and tell a doctor, a friend, and the police.  You have a right to say “No!”
  • Keep a journal and document the abusive behavior, and keep the journal in a safe place.
  • Friends and family who suspect abuse should document dates and concerns.
  • Women – Listen to your gut-feelings when you feel that “something is wrong.”  
  • Request the Spokane Police Department’s Sexual Assault Unit (Deputy Jerry Keller) talk to your Block Watch group or other neighborhood organization about sex offenders.  Call (509) 625-4272.  
  • Determine if there is a known sex offender living near your home, by viewing the list of Washington offenders at http://waspc.org.  Explain to your children that if anyone from that household tries to contact you or make friends with you, your children must tell you.  This site includes photos and descriptions of area sex offenders.  Level 3 sex offenders are those that are considered most likely to re-offend.  
  • Parents— After reading and approving the book “The Swimsuit Lesson,” by Holsten and Freeman, consider reading it to your children.  This book teaches children to keep themselves safe.  It helps prevent child sexual abuse by protecting kids from predators, and teaching children of their responsibility to tell.
  • Do not drive with your car doors unlocked, or leave your car unlocked while parked.  If a stranger signals you to pull over, drive to a well-lit gas station or populated area where offenders will not follow.  
  • Remain alert in parking lots where offenders can hide easily between cars.  Avoid walking to distant or dark parking areas alone.   One in 12 crimes of violence happens in a parking lot.  If you are worried, ask a store or parking lot attendant to accompany you. 

  • Leaders of Youth Programs.  Study the policies adopted by the BSA to help provide barriers to child abuse, which serve to protect youth from sexual assault, and protect adult leaders from false accusations of abuse:

Local Organizations
Additional Resources
  • Lutheran Social Services Sexual Assault Center
    (509) 747-8224  Crime Victim Advocate Line, Counseling Services Intake, and Support Groups
  • 1-800-799-7233   The National Domestic Violence Hotline

  • Remember Elizabeth Smart.  Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped at age 14 and raped for 9 months before being rescued on March 12, 2003.  Today, she works to prevent predatory crimes, to end future sexual crimes  and victimization through prevention, recovery and advocacy for all children.  Learn about proven efforts to end crimes against children, to address victims, survivors and families with the resources and community they need to encourage hope and empower their future. 
    What parents should teach their children to prevent child abduction.  Show children how to call 911.  Teach children to fight back, scream, kick or yell, in the first few minutes they feel threatened by anyone.   
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/elizabeth-smart-10preventing-child-abduction-what-kids-should-konw-15487631
    TED Talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0C2LPXaEW4
    http://elizabethsmartfoundation.org/

  • Partners with Families & Children:  Spokane
Their mission is to begin the healing for children who have been abused or neglected, as well as seeking justice for them.  Children and their families, who are affected by child abuse, neglect and exposure to drugs and violence, receive expert evaluation and treatment services.  Working with various agencies such as law enforcement, health professionals, social workers, attorneys, and the court system, they have created a safety net designed to prevent children from falling through the cracks.  

Partners with Families and Children provides a room where a child who has been sexually abused can tell the story once to a social worker while police and CPS investigators observe through one-way glass.  A doctor is able to conduct an exam in a nearby room, and a staff member is able to refer the child and family to a therapist for ongoing counseling.  This program started at Spokane’s Deaconess Medical Center, and is an accredited hospital-based children’s advocacy center.  

This organization replaces the chaos of a hospital emergency room where a traumatized child is examined by a doctor, then retells his/her story to a steady stream of strangers, from the nurse, to the social worker, to the CPS caseworker, to the police officer, to the prosecuting attorney.  

Through careful documentation and shared resources, agencies can make sure that those who harm children are punished.