In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness month, the local community addresses the significance of the issue.
According to the 2014 Criminal Victimization report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of victims of sexual assault and rape was 150,420 for that year. The prevalence rate was 0.06 percent with only about 33.6 percent of the victimizations being reported to police.
Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network reports that each year there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault, 44 percent of whom are under the age of 18.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center said one in five women have experienced sexual assault in their lifetimes, although those numbers have been contested. The number is called into question as the incidents fall under two categories: public health and criminal justice.
In the context of criminal justice, the numbers are based on a direct inquest that consider whether or not the person has been assaulted. On the other hand, public health considers assault more inclusively, using a broader, more descriptive conception to include more people. Regardless, the number is still over 200,000 victims, according to data from RAINN.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center also says 91 percent of victims of sexual assault and rape are female, and in eight of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew his or her attacker.
Tinder and Grindr have both said that they are not liable for their users’ actions, but these issues are unresolved. This violence is not a new phenomenon. It is just being discussed in a new fashion due to new issues arising. Groups like Green Dot are trying to solve this problem with a method called bystander intervention.
“The approach that we are taking with lots of communities around the country is a bystander intervention approach, which is really equipping bystanders to recognize some of the warning signs for sexual violence and giving them tools to intervene,” said Jessy Lyons, an associate director at Green Dot.
Shelters across the country are trying to make a difference in these assaults through community outreach events.
The Shafer Center said the majority of sexual assault cases are perpetrated by someone the victim already knows, and they do not get many cases where the victim identifies meeting his or her attacker online or through dating services.
The Student Government Association has activities planned before spring break. According to the SGA, the association will focus heavily on addressing sexual violence awareness in the Hattiesburg community.
The Shafer Center will be hosting an event on Feb. 26 called Walk a Mile in Her Shoes in which men will don high heels and walk on the athletic track to raise awareness for sexual assaults.
The event will be held on the USM campus for those who wish to participate.
Green Dot also holds events around campus for students and faculty to learn bystander intervention and techniques on how to defuse dangerous situations.