Graphic courtesy of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Available to Discuss Issues Related to Sexual Assault
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a time dedicated to raising public awareness about sexual violence and educating communities on how to prevent it. In the wake of news stories on reports of sexual assault committed by high-profile media, business, and Hollywood figures, awareness of sexual assault, particularly in the workplace, has grown dramatically over the past six months.
The impact has been felt locally at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), where the #MeToo movement has resulted in a sharp increase in requests for services. In December and January, requests for legal support increased 110 percent over the same period last year, and requests for counseling services increased 43 percent. In December, calls to BARCC’s hotline increased 34 percent.
In anticipation of heightened interest in SAAM stories, BARCC Executive Director Gina Scaramella and BARCC’s Advocacy and Legislative Affairs Manager Katia Santiago-Taylor will be available throughout the month to speak with media outlets that are doing stories related to SAAM.
Scaramella can speak on sexual harassment, abuse, and assault issues in general; the medical and mental health needs of survivors; and rape as a public health issue. She has shared her expertise in op-eds and interviews with outlets that include New England Cable News (NECN), the Boston Globe, WGBH, Bustle, and the Hill.
“The wave of #MeToo disclosures, and heightened public awareness about how common sexual harassment, abuse, and assault actually are has sparked an unprecedented demand for our services,” said Scaramella. “In Massachusetts, close to 4,500 adolescents and adults are sexually assaulted each year—that’s 12 people a day. We must do more to change the culture that fosters these crimes. The areas to begin with are ending the practices of victim blaming and shaming, trivializing the impact of sexual assault, and tolerating workplace sexual harassment.”
Santiago-Taylor can speak about legislative and policy solutions that will help survivors, as well as advocacy efforts to enact system change. She has shared her expertise in media outlets that include WBZ CBS Boston, Univision, and State House New Service. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.
“It’s not enough to say we want change. We have to change the culture with legislative and policy reforms. Only in this way will we begin to create new norms and standards of behavior that will reduce sexual violence,” said Santiago-Taylor.
Facts about sexual violence
- Sexual violence affects people of all genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Survivors often know the person who assaulted them. Sexual violence takes many forms, including rape or sexual assault; childhood sexual abuse and incest; sexual harassment; sexual exploitation and trafficking; unwanted sexual contact/touching; exposing one's genitals to others without consent; or public masturbation.
- In Massachusetts, nearly 13 percent of adults ages 18–65 years old have experienced unwanted sexual contact at some time in their lives. Eighteen percent of girls and seven percent of boys in local high schools report having experienced unwanted sexual contact.
- About one in three women and one in six men in the U.S. have experienced some form of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault during their lifetime. Nearly one in five women (18.3%) and one in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
- Almost one in two transgender people (47%) surveyed have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Transgender Survey.
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
- People with a disability of any kind have an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that is more than twice the rate for people without disabilities, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey and the 2010 Massachusetts Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System.
- One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
About the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC)
Founded in 1973, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center has a mission to end sexual violence through healing and social change. BARCC provides free, confidential support and services to all survivors of sexual violence ages 12 and up and their families and friends throughout Greater Boston. It works with survivors regardless of when the assault occurred, and its goal is to empower survivors to heal and seek justice. BARCC also works with a wide range of organizations and communities, including schools, colleges, and police, to advocate for change. It provides training in how to respond to survivors and create cultures that prevent sexual violence in the first place. Follow BARCC on social media: Twitter @barcc; Instagram @barccofficial; Facebook /barcc.org.