April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
By Jami Custer Staff Writer TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 34 percent of all Native American/Alaskan Native women are victims of attempted sexual assault, the highest percentage among any race in the country. RAINN, the country’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, reported that even though about 80 percent of all assault victims are white, minorities in some cases are more likely to be attacked. The organization reports that white women make up 17.7 percent, black women make up 18.8 percent, Asian Pacific make up 6.8 percent and women of mixed race make up 24.4 percent of the attempted victims. While not every case involves women, 3 percent of women have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In 2003, according to RAINN, one in every 10 rape victims was male. That totals more than 2.5 million men in the United States who have been assaulted in some form compared to the 17.7 million women.
National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health (918) 207-3898, CN W.W. Hastings (918) 458-3170, CN Marshal Service (918) 207-3800
Many rape or sexual assault sufferers often do not know whether what happened to them was considered rape or assault. According to RAINN, these questions can help judge whether or not someone has been a victim of this type of crime. Are the participants old enough to consent? People below the consenting age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex. In most states, the age of consent is 16 or 18. In some states, the age of consent varies according to the age difference between the participants. Because laws are different in every state, it is important to find out the law in your state. Do both people have the capacity to consent? States also define who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. Those with diminished capacity – such as people with disabilities, elderly people and people who have been drugged or are unconscious – may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex. Did both participants agree to take part? Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? It doesn’t matter if you think your partner means “yes,” or if you’ve already started having sex — “no” also means “stop.” If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and decency, you may have also committed a crime under the laws of your state. Reach Staff Writer Jami Custer at (918) 453-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org