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Monday, April 4, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


UNITED STATES ATTORNEY ISSUES STATEMENT RECOGNIZING 2011 SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH

It’s Time...To Get Involved

In 2009, President Obama was the first President to mark April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This was significant because awareness months serve not only to highlight different issues that impact our society, but they also challenge citizens to learn more and to become involved in finding solutions to a collective problem.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, United States Attorney, Bill Killian is heeding the President’s call to be a partner in raising awareness on the issue of sexual violence by issuing the following:

• Sexual violence is a complex crime that affects every community. It has no boundaries in terms of gender, geographic location, race, ethnicity, economic class, or sexual orientation.

• The 2006 National Violence Against Women Study found that only one in five of the victims studied reported their rape to the police. There are a host of reasons for which many victims will never seek justice, including fear of not being believed, having to relive a traumatic experience, or fear of retribution, to list a few.

• The theme of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, “It’s Time . . . to get involved,” encourages people across the United States to own the issue of sexual assault and promote responsible actions that ordinary citizens can take to intervene and prevent it.

• This devastating crime warrants our focused attention because it is often misunderstood and incorrectly portrayed. Sexual assault remains one of the most under reported crimes in America. In fact, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2008 less than half of rapes or sexual assaults against women were reported.

• The effects on victims and society are profound. Many rape victims suffer severe long-term physical and emotional difficulties. They experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even thoughts of suicide.

• April’s designation as Sexual Assault Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to learn more about the crime and the devastating impact it has on victims and entire communities, to commit ourselves to bring justice to the victims and their families, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

• We are supported in our work by the President and Attorney General who are committed to stopping this violence, finding innovative ways to meet the needs of victims and holding offenders accountable.

• Through the leadership of the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), coordinated programs are being implemented with federal, state, local, tribal partners, and non-profit organizations to address the full spectrum of crimes related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, which often intersect and co-exist.

• The Department of Justice is also committed to serving children exposed to violence. Through the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood initiative, the Department and its partners are focusing on reducing childhood exposure to violence by advancing scientific inquiry, and reducing the negative impact through intervening with children and their families early in the cycle.

• More information about the Office on Violence Against Women and its work with law enforcement and communities can be found at www.ovw.usdoj.gov , or visit the Eastern District of Tennessee website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/tne, Victim-Witness Assistance Section.

• It is no longer acceptable to keep silent about these crimes; we are engaging in a national dialogue to give full support to victims and encourage those who are victimized to seek assistance and help.

As the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee my hope is that more citizens will join in the quest to meet the needs of victims, hold offenders accountable and put an end to sexual violence here and around the world.

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