Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, according to RAINN. That number continues to grow but so is the awareness of the epidemic. The question is, are we handling the issue correctly?
Kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart and her dad weighed in on the issue at the Barbara Sinatra Center Luncheon.
“It can happen to anyone, it doesn’t matter how wealthy you are, or how poor you are or how educated you are” Smart said. “It can happen to anyone.”
One in six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, RAINN reported. The majority of sexual assault victims are under 30 years old.
“That’s why it’s an important topic to talk about openly,” Smart said.
Elizabeth’s dad, Edward, said America isn’t doing enough when it comes to educating younger generations.
“We really need to teach our children life skills that will enable them and empower them,” he said. “The greatest gift we can give them is to educate them about the worst things that can happen in life.”
The statistics show an assault is becoming more and more likely. What the statistics don’t show is the enormous number of cases that go unreported.
“When you look at those who have been abused or that are being abused, many of them don’t have the wherewithal to come forward and stop the abuse,” Edward said. “The more that we can get the word out there, the more comfortable people feel about coming forward.”
“It doesn’t matter where you were, or what you were doing, it doesn’t matter if you were drunk out of your mind running naked down the street,” Elizabeth said. “There is nothing that will ever make being raped or being sexually abused or being kidnapped, okay.”
Although it can take a long time for some, there is a chance for full recovery, Elizabeth said.
“It doesn’t mean that this is going to define you for the rest of your life because ultimately what defines you are the choices that you make,” she said. “You can choose this to become your identity or you can choose, you can decide, who you are.”
Elizabeth and her family are starting a podcast called Smart Talks. The segments are a resource for victims and families of victims.