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National Victim Assistance Academy Resource Paper: Sexual Assault

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2012
18 pages
Publication Series
Following a summary of statistics on the nature and prevalence of sexual assault in the United States, this paper defines terms used in the discussion of sexual assault, addresses its unique impact/effects on victims, recommends effective responses and advocacy for sexual-assault victims, considers the cultural issues and barriers in victim reporting and accessing services, and emphasizes the importance and features of collaborative responses and resources.
In the United States in 2010, 188,380 rapes or sexual assaults were committed against victims age 12 or older. The new, more inclusive definition of "rape" in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports is "the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." Regarding the impacts of sexual assault on victims, for many it is a life-shattering event that involves a violation of the most intimate part of the person. Every aspect of a victim's life may be affected because of the nature of the violation, the meaning of sexual assault to the victim, and the range and intensity of the resulting trauma symptoms. In recommending effective responses in victim support and advocacy, the paper addresses medical and mental health treatment and victim advocacy services in the context of case processing by the criminal justice system. A section includes a description of the role of the sexual assault response team (SART). Another section of the paper considers cultural issues and barriers to reporting sexual assault and accessing victim services. A victim's cultural background can influence his/her reporting of the offense, seeking services, and responding and coping in the aftermath of rape. The paper concludes with an emphasis on collaborative responses and resources in responding to sexual assault victims. 35 notes

Date Published: September 1, 2012