Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc.


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 0 of 9

PRSRT STD ECRWSS U.S. POSTAGE PAID EDDM RETAIL Local Postal Customer Approximately 73 percent of rape victims know their assailant. accessHealth High-tech health care news that keeps you in the loop. Breaking the Silence By Tonia Wright In bedrooms, back alleys, board rooms and even nursing homes, it's happening. As survivors suffer in silence, perpetrators of sexual assault roam urban and rural communities with an air of invincibility. They bank on the assumption that their victims will keep quite. A tough and ugly subject, this article aims to pay homage to survivors and perhaps embolden those who have remained silent to speak. Somewhere in America, a woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Industry reports reveal that only 60 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement and that 73 percent of rape victims knew their assailant. Additionally, 28 percent of victims are raped by an intimate partner, 38 percent by a friend or acquaintance and 7 percent by a relative. The statistics go on and on. "When it comes to sexual assault, there is no difference between urban and rural communities," said Carolyn Cordle, executive director of Collection of Victim Evidence Regarding Sexual Assault (COVERSA). "It's happening at everyone's back door. People think they are safer in smaller communities, but the reality is there may be fewer criminals, but the rate of sexual assault, per capita, is the same. No one can hide from it. It's everywhere." COVERSA has 12 outreach sites in hospitals across the region, including Lafayette Regional Health Center in Lexington, Ray County Hospital in Richmond and Excelsior Springs Hospital. The nonprofit organization deploys sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) who act as forensic experts when collecting victim evidence after an assault. Their role is to provide private, compassionate and objective care throughout the forensic exam, while partnering with organizations like the House of Hope in Lexington to ensure the survivor has a support system to help with the recovery process. The forensic evidence that SANEs collect can be used in a court of law to either convict or acquit the person accused of the assault. In the first three months of 2013, COVERSA's forensic evidence collection has netted 400 years of incarceration for those convicted of sexual assault. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 43 percent of rapes occur between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. The most vulnerable populations are college students, the elderly and the mentally ill. "It's not about sex," Cordle said. "It's about vulnerability, power and control." Date rape drugs, like Rohypnol and Zolpidem among others, continue to be a weapon used by perpetrators to make unsuspecting women—and unsuspecting women—and men—vulnerable. Cordle explained that during the time of the attack, victims under the influence of the drug may be conscious and even conversational but totally unaware of what is happening. They may wake up in a strange place or find themselves fully or partially exposed. She said the date rape drug can make some people who are normally aloof, very "touchy-feely." been victimized validation." Cordle and COVERSA's founder and Medical Director Rebecca Hierholzer, MD., M.B.A., F.A.C.E.P., also stress the importance of not re-victimizing someone who has been sexually assaulted. "A sexual assault occurs when someone does not have the capacity to consent, whether it be because of too much alcohol, drugs, mental capacity—if you are not able to consent, it is a sexual assault," Cordle said. "It's important not to ask 'why' questions. Why questions put blame on the victim. Look at the victim as your own daughter or son. Be compassionate and don't judge." As for breaking the silence, more survivors are coming to grips with the attack and fighting back in a court of law. Surprisingly, Cordle and Hierholzer emphasize that family and friends shouldn't necessarily push prosecution. "Prosecution isn't always the Too much alcohol has similar answer," said Cordle. "Not effects. "People who have been everyone is strong enough." drinking or drugged and suspect foul play just want to know what "The ability to feel secure again, really happened," Cordle said. regain power, to not be afraid and to not lose sleep is just as Through a partnership with the important," Hierholzer said. "At Kansas City Crime Lab, trial, the victim has to sit in front COVERSA is the only agency in of the perpetrator as well as 12 Missouri that can administer a jurors who they've never seen test called PSA (or prostate in their life and tell their story. specific antigen). Basically, up They have to answer some very to 36 hours after a suspected personal questions. You have to sexual assault, COVERSA can be very strong to do that, and test a woman for PSA to see if some people just can't." seminal fluid is present. "I think this will increase the rate of reports," Cordle said. "Before, if someone suspected they had been assaulted, they had to file a police report and everyone involved would be interviewed before we could run a rape kit. Most people don't want to falsely accuse someone. Now we can test a woman for PSA. Women don't have prostates so the tests are conclusive for detection of seminal fluid. This empowers them. It gives those who have "Prosecution is a long, tough road," Cordle added. "To sugar coat it and make it look like Law & Order: SVU is wrong, because it's not." Learn more at Call COVERSA's 24-hour exam request line at 816.717.1136.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc. - accessHealthSpring2013Digital