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Study on Sexual Assault Raises Concerns

Study on Sexual Assault Raises Concerns

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Shelley Osterloh and Coco Warner reporting A study released today by the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice indicates one in eight Utah women will be raped during their lifetime.

Unfortunately, that isn't the only result causing concern.

While one in eight is a significant number, researchers were troubled with a different statistic. According to the study, one in three Utah women at some point, will be sexually assaulted.

One in three. The number is startling. But even more startling? Experts are not surprised.

Heather Stringfellow/ Director, Rape Recovery Center: "It's something our community typically doesn't talk about. It's somewhat taboo. In terms of saying actually someone in my family had been affected, someone in my ward, someone at work. People don't talk about it very often."

Heather Stringfellow is the director of the Salt Lake Rape Crisis Center. She says numbers like these demand priority.

"It just reminds me how we have our work cut out for us as a community."

Researcher Mike Haddon agrees, sexual violence is more common than people would like to believe it really is.

Mike Haddon/ CCJJ Research Director: "A number like this hopefully will bring strong awareness to our communities that this is a problem and society needs to start thinking about this seriously and addressing this seriously."

Haddon says because the study is among the first of its kind, it's difficult to compare Utah to the rest of the nation-- but it isn't difficult to see the reality of the problem.

"These are serious types of assaults. Every single type we have classified as a sexual assault would be a criminal offense."

Another alarming realization. Of the 30% of Utah women who are sexually assaulted---less than ten percent officially report the offense.

Stringfellow views this information as more than just numbers.

"It's an opportunity for people to go back to their homes and workplaces and school and do their own little study and recognize how prevalent it is."

So now, with this new information, the question is what do we do about it?

Marty Liccardo/Utah Men Against Sexual Violence: "She was saying therapy is too traumatic right now, I just need to get out of it for awhile and pretend this didn't happen for awhile, totally healthy."

Marty Liccado is conducting a training session for volunteers at the Rape Recovery Center in Sugarhouse. He's helping future crisis line operators figure out how to best help victims of sexual violence.

Falisha Hulet/Volunteer: "This is a great resource. They have counseling, they have support groups, they have people you can talk to. You can make friends here."

Keep in mind that this study classifies sexual assault as any forced sexual contact and any nonconsenting sexual act.

It also addresses the myth of "Stranger Danger." Most sexual assaults are actually perpetrated by someone you know.

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