Carol Anne Costa: Sexual Assault Can Happen to Anyone
Thursday, January 23, 2014
- Women and girls are the vast majority of victims: nearly 1 in 5 women – or nearly 22 million – have been raped in their lifetimes.
- Men and boys, however, are also at risk: 1 in 71 men – or almost 1.6 million – have been raped during their lives.
- Women of all races are targeted, but some are more vulnerable than others: 33.5% of multiracial women have been raped, as have 27% of American Indian and Alaska Native women, compared to 15% of Hispanic, 22% of Black, and 19% of White women.
- Most victims know their assailants.
- The vast majority (nearly 98%) of perpetrators are male.
- Young people are especially at risk: nearly half of female survivors were raped before they were 18, and over one-quarter of male survivors were raped before they were 10 years old.
- College students are particularly vulnerable: 1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college.
- Repeat victimization is common: over a third of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults.
This according to a newly released report entitled “ Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, prepared by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of the Vice President. These statistics are staggering, frightening and this report should become an important source of information, but more, a cry for Americans to mobilize. I can tell you personally as a retired Superior Court Clerk that cases of sexual assault were some of the most difficult trials to sit through. The pain, embarrassment and shear terror that lived on the faces of the victims who testified and the agony of family members present in the gallery was palpable. But as a community, state and nation what is a path forward to slash the incidents of assault and how can we better protect and heal the victims.
Who is at Most Risk
The report lays out the most vulnerable populations: teens and young adults, people with disabilities, the incarcerated, the LGBT community, the homeless, undocumented immigrants and particularly college campus communities. As my niece and so many other young people in my life are preparing to make their way to college next year, it sends shivers down my spine. The report research indicates that 1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college. It states further that the dynamics of college life appear to fuel the problem, as many survivors are victims of what’s called “incapacitated assault”: they are sexually abused while drunk, under the influence of drugs, passed out, or otherwise incapacitated. Perpetrators often prey on incapacitated women, and sometimes surreptitiously provide their victims with drugs or alcohol. From my perspective, we all have a big stake in this troubling problem. The conversations must begin with a responsible adult talking honestly with our college age kids, providing, not only admonitions but support and education. This process should begin way before they are decorating the dorms. That is why funding our school’s resource programs and arming our teachers and guidance counselors is such a valuable cog in the machinery.
As a nation we have faced problems and through education and proactive measures and change has come on issues like smoking and lead paint. More recently the scourge of bullying is being exposed and we are moving collectively to empower our children to fight back and take a stand. We now require a head on collision with rape. In April of 2012 President Obama said, “It is up to all of us to ensure victims of sexual violence are not left to face these trials alone. Too often, survivors suffer in silence, fearing retribution, lack of support, or that the criminal justice system will fail to bring the perpetrator to justice. We must do more to raise awareness about the realities of sexual assault; confront and change insensitive attitudes wherever they persist; enhance training and education in the criminal justice system; and expand access to critical health, legal, and protection services for survivors.” I totally agree Mr. President.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
According to the report, the economic costs of a rape include medical and victim services, loss of productivity, decreased quality of life, and law enforcement resources. Each entity surveyed used a slightly different methodology, but all found the costs to be significant: ranging from $87,000 to $240,776 per rape. It makes economic sense to attack this problem with gusto. Take into account some of the other stats revealed and remember every stat is a person and each bears an economic cost but more than that each carries a huge emotional toll:
- A study found that in the mid-1990s, women with severe disabilities were
four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women with no disability. A more
recent study made similar findings, reporting that individuals with a disability were three
times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than individuals without a disability.
- People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)
are also uniquely vulnerable. One study found that 13.2% of bisexual men and 11.6% of
gay men were raped in adulthood, compared to 1.6% of heterosexual men.
- One study found that 13% of homeless women had been raped in the previous
year, and half of these women were raped at least twice.
We can only fix this with a plan of action. The White House and Vice President Biden launched the 1is2many initiative in 2012. This is another resource available to educate, motivate and help us all to craft a path forward.
As the news is filled with the politics of traffic jams and traffic tickets, let us not lose sight of this new research. Let us use this report as a call to action and I will keep my eyes trained on Smith Street with the hope that a visionary Legislator or Executive in conjunction with many of our motivated victims' rights advocates will provide more tools in this fight.
Carol Costa is a public relations and community outreach specialist; she has experience in both the public and private sectors. She is the Chairwoman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee and has extensive community affairs and public relations experience. She previously served in the Rhode Island Judiciary for nearly 17 years. Carol also enjoyed a successful development stint at the Diocese of Providence as Associate Director for Catholic Education and is currently a public housing manager. Her work has been published in several local outlets including GoLocal, Valley Breeze, The Rhode Island Catholic, and Currents Magazine.
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The founder and Creative Director of Alex and Ani, Rafaelian started the company in 2004 to produce jewelry to “adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.”
Prior to founding Alex and Ani, Rafaelian produced designs for and co-owned Cinerama, her father’s jewelry manufacturing company. Now, in addition to Alex and Ani, Rafaelian owns Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, and the café franchise Teas and Javas. Rafaelian received the 2012 Rhode Island Small Businessperson of the Year Award as well as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the products category for New England.
Merchant is the CEO and President of Hope Global, an engineered textile solutions company centered in Cumberland with plants and sales offices all over the world.
Merchant began her career as a production supervisor at General Motors, then worked at Mazda, Ford Motor Company, and Lear Corporation, and managed manufacturing plants in Mexico, Canada, Poland, England, and America.
In addition to her work with Hope Global, Merchant is an active member of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island Commodores, and the Governor’s Economic Development Council, and is a trustee of Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
Snead is the CEO of Banneker Industries, Inc., a supply chain management company in North Smithfield that has performed e-procurement, assembly, packaging, inventory management, warehousing and distribution services since its founding in 1991.
Snead has served as state delegate on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council and received the 2009 New England Businesswoman of the Year Award and Women Business Enterprise National Council Star Award, among numerous others in year prior. She now serves on the Board of Directors of AMICA Insurance Company and is a member of the Rhode Island Commodores.
Zimmerman is the CEO and Chairman of the Board for FarSounder Inc., a Warwick based company specializing in sonar technology and born of Zimmerman’s achievement in the 2002 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
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The nineteenth President of Brown University, Paxson had previously served as Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Chair of its economics department, as well as Director and founder of an NIA Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging.
Paxson is an expert in public health, having conducted research on childhood health, AIDS in Africa, and Hurricane Katrina, among other topics.
White, the President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, previously served as its Senior Vice President, and an executive counselor to the Governor in policy and communications. She is dedicated to strengthening the business community in Providence with focus on employment and retaining young, talented professionals to work in the state.
Dr. Carriuolo is the ninth President of Rhode Island College. She has previously served as the Director of the Office of School/College Relations at NEASC and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences the University of New Haven.
She has written over thirty publications, featured in, among others, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Education Week. In 2009, she was named a CLADEA fellow, and she has served on the boards of many organizations, including the Journal of Developmental Education and New England Dollars for Scholars.
Lapides is the co-founder, President, and CEO of Rhode Island real estate firm Residential Properties.
Lapides has been quoted in many local and national publications as a real estate specialist. During her career, Lapides has served on the boards at the RISD Museum, Roger Williams University, Smith Hill Center, and Trinity Repertory Company, among others -- and as Chair of the Board of the Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Action Campaign Committee, helped raise a million dollars for the Fund for the LGBT community.
Pattie, the CEO and President of BankNewport and OceanPoint Financial Partners, MHC, began her career with the bank in 1984 as a consumer loan officer, rising through ranks and across different areas of expertise.
Pattie is a board member of the United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Bankers Association as well as a trustee of the Community College of Rhode Island. She is also a certified financial planner and a member of the Board of Governors for Newport Hospital.
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