Although sexual assault can be an uncomfortable topic, not talking about it is worse. Without open discussion regarding this social and public health issue, some people cannot understand how often it happens. The impact of being a victim of sexual assault can have long term effects on the life of a victim psychologically and/or physically including eating disorders, substance abuse, and dysfunctional relationships.

The 2015 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that almost 12 percent of high school girls and six percent of boys said they had been forced to have sexual intercourse against their will. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that about one in five women and one in 71 men in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives.

Preventing sexual assault requires a whole community approach where everyone models healthy relationships and respectful behavior. Our Bureau of Women and Children’s Health supports sexual assault prevention strategies that are implemented by four state agencies that provide education to young people in high school and college in person, online and through other messaging. We are working with the University of Arizona and our partner contractors to offer intervention training to staff of alcohol serving establishments.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center Prevention is Possible fact sheet provides specific strategies that individuals, communities, and businesses can adopt to prevent sexual assault. Key ways to help reduce sexual violence include intervening when you witness disrespectful behavior, believing survivors, assisting them in finding resources, and investing in bystander intervention training for staff. The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence offers training related to sexual assault throughout the year in communities across Arizona.

If you are a victim of sexual assault and need assistance, call the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network national hotline number at 1-800-656-HOPE(4673).