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April 15, 2011

Advocates Celebrate Unprecedented Federal Action on Sexual Assault

Washington, D.C. – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) today recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Many victims of domestic violence, teen dating abuse and stalking are also the victims of rape and sexual assault.  This year’s theme, “It’s Time…to Get Involved,” encourages bystanders or witnesses to take action to end sexual violence in their communities.   

“This April, let us renew our efforts to end sexual violence through education and prevention,” said Sue Else, NNEDV’s president.  “It’s time to take action. Speak out in your community, talk to your friends and family, and support organizations working to end sexual violence.”  

NNEDV is applauding historic steps this month to address sexual assault. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan introduced comprehensive policy directives to aid universities, schools and colleges in better understanding their obligations under federal laws to prevent and respond to sexual assaults on campuses.  Else applauded the administration’s “thoughtful and unprecedented application of the Title IX Civil Rights law to provide academic institutions with these concrete enforcement strategies to help prevent and end sexual violence.” 

The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) launched the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative, a first-of-its-kind effort to target critical resources to dual domestic and sexual violence programs.  Noting the invaluable work performed by these programs, OVW Director Susan Carbon commended them on their efforts.     

“It’s so encouraging to see such a strong appreciation of the great work done by dual domestic violence and sexual assault programs and to see a focus on sexual assault at the federal level,” said Else. “We are grateful that the Obama administration takes this issue seriously and is taking actions to match its words.” 

One in six women and one in 33 men are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Though reporting sexual assault to police has increased one-third since 1993, 60 percent of sexual assault still goes unreported.  Only 6 percent of rapists ever spend time in jail for their crimes.   

“Sexual assaults occur at staggering rates. There are amazing organizations across the country designed to serve victims,” said Else.  “We recognize and honor them and the survivors they serve this month and throughout the year.” 

For more information about Sexual Assault Awareness Month, visit http://www.nsvrc.org/saam.   

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