April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, where every year since 2001, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has promoted increased public awareness of sexual violence in this country, both to help injury victims and their families as well as to try and prevent future sexual violence.
Throughout the month of April, expect to learn about special events that focus upon aspects of sexual violence (preventation and treatment). This past Tuesday, for example, was the “day of action” for the NSVRC to get the word out about this growing, tragic national problem.
What is Sexual Violence?
Any sexual behavior that happens without the approval and consent of the victim is sexual violence. This can be rape, attempted rape, forms of harassment, etc. Victims can be harmed physically and psychologically.
Sexual violence can happen anywhere: at home, at school, at work. In fact, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that U.S. employees experienced 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults from 1993 to 1999.
Legal Protections for the Victims of Sexual Violence
Criminal laws are in place to protect victims of sexual violence as well as trying to prevent it from happening in the first place. For those that unfortunately fall victim to sexual violence, there are also personal injury laws on the books that can act to help the victim and their families recover from this horrific event. Not only can the perpetrator of the sexual violence be sued under a variety of civil tort laws, but other parties may also be legally responsible for the harm that has happened.
For example, a shopping mall may be held legally responsible for sexual violence that occurs in its parking garage with insufficient lighting. Or, an employer may be held legally responsible for failing to deal with an employee known to have a history of sexual violence or inappropriate sexual behavior.
Sexual assault is a sensitive subject, and it can be that victims feel that pursuing legal remedies will only prolong the horror. They may feel that moving forward by forgetting is the best course of action. That may be true for some, but for other victims, it is important for them to be aware that there are civil laws available to them as well as criminal ones — all existing to serve justice.
Be careful out there.