April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and though statistics mark improvement, sexual assault is still a problem that requires our attention, specifically in the black community.
Sexual assault has proven to be a continuous issue in the U.S. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey shows a decrease in reported sexual assault rates over the past decade.
The rate of sexual assault is greater among the black community, especially black women. The Department of Justice estimates that — on top of the disproportionate rate — for every black woman who reports a sexual assault, 15 black women do not report theirs.
Sexual violence can be taboo. We often associate shame with victims of sexual violence.
There are other issues of oppression in regard to both race and gender that are likely to contribute to higher numbers of reported and unreported sexual assault cases in the black community.
Many sexual assault survivors don’t know about the resources out there. Women of color already used to institutional racism might find trusting sexual assault survivor centers or shelters especially difficult as they cope with potential victim-blaming behavior.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month should drive us to pay more attention to the very real issues that can take place under the radar.
We must also help to make available resources known and encourage survivors to report their stories so that we can seek justice and prevent future violence, regardless of race.
Crime has been an ongoing issue for the University of Minnesota and surrounding neighborhoods, and University students have reported sexual assault this academic year.
The Aurora Center offers services to all victims and survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College.
Minneapolis has many other available resources for survivors, including the Sexual Violence Center and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center.
I urge students, faculty and staff to attend Sexual Assault Awareness Month programming and arm themselves with more knowledge on sexual assault.