Sexual Violence: An Introduction

Sexual violence is not a simple issue. A few brief but little-known facts that most advocates and prevention organizations are familiar with:

  1. Most who sexually assault others are never caught by the criminal justice system, and those who are rarely get convicted.
  2. The police in many jurisdictions choose not to investigate rape kits or sexual assault allegations and even fewer prosecutors choose to prosecute these cases.
  3. Friends and family members of people who “allegedly” sexually assault someone, adult or child, frequently disbelieve that someone they know and trust “could do such a thing,” and in fact, most people who sexually assault someone are known and trusted in their communities. This means less victims report in the presence of harsh penalties.
  4. A significant portion of sexual violence is perpetrated by children. About 36% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by juveniles.
  5. Most who commit acts of sexual violence never do so again once they are held accountable. Since most who sexually assault others are never caught, this creates a problem because much of our focus is on highly punitive registration and notification schemes that were built on the myth of high recidivism rather than preventing sexual violence through educated and mentally healthy communities.
  6. Many sexual assault victims do not wish for harsh penalties on the person who abused them. They believe that probation, mental health treatment, and education are sufficient to ensure someone never harms another person, and these options are thoroughly supported by the research into the effects of sentencing within the criminal justice system.

Many organizations would use simpler lists. The reason I do not can be summed up in two pictures.

This is how most people see the issue of sexual violence:

This is the reality:

While this site is dedicated to child sexual abuse specifically, you should take the opportunity to learn more about sexual violence as a whole and pursuing solutions to the issue that result in fewer people who victimize others. Knowledge is power, and those who create policies currently do not have enough knowledge and moral backbone to stand up to popular but wrongheaded approaches to solutions to sexual violence.