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Honoring Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This has been an incredible month with so many groups and individuals raising awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Thank you to everyone for doing your part in helping to support survivors and eradicate this horrific crime.

President Trump’s National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month Proclamation outlined human trafficking as a priority for this administration as it is “a form of sexual assault that amounts to modern‑day slavery”. Identifying and stopping trafficking is also a priority for OVW: we emphasized this in 11 of our program applications so far this year, including Tribal Sexual Assault Services (TSASP), Transitional Housing Assistance (TH) and Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV). Through these programs, OVW expects to fund more innovative approaches like that used in the Queens County Criminal Court in New York. There victims are connected with treatment and support through the OVW-funded Hidden Victims Project (HVP). HVP helps survivors secure safe housing and enroll in college, and meet educational and vocational goals. This empowerment of survivors is a terrific example of the great work OVW grantees are doing!

The President specifically highlighted OVW’s Virtual Practicum in his Proclamation that enhances the response to victims who seek medical forensic care after their assaults. Our office is updating a Virtual Practicum that provides interactive training on performing a medical forensic exam and handling evidence. OVW also has awarded a grant to the International Association of Forensic Nurses that will be used to develop online training for healthcare providers based on current standards and best practices. These technological advancements and grant awards will train more to bring justice and healing to sexual assault victims.

In every state, OVW grant dollars help combat sexual assault through strengthening the justice system’s response to these crimes and expanding services for victims. Each year in the STOP Formula Program alone, more than 50,000 sexual assault victims receive services, over 1,600 medical forensic exams are provided to victims, and prosecutors charge over 4,200 sexual assault cases. Our grants are supporting specialized sexual assault units in law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices, multidisciplinary approaches such as Sexual Assault Response Teams, and community-based organizations that are building their capacity to serve sexual assault victims with help from technical assistance we make available to grantees.

The coordination with law enforcement and medical professionals, added with developments enhanced with technical assistance and training, is just one of OVW’s numerous efforts to end sexual assault in this country. It will take a united collaboration by all of you on the frontlines to provide the best resources to survivors and to hold offenders responsible. Sexual Assault Awareness Month serves as a reminder that sexual assault is still an ominous reality for many: the Justice Department estimates that nearly 400,000 people were sexually assaulted in the U.S. in 2017. Sexual Assault Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to unite communities and inspire innovative ideas to effect long lasting change. Thank you all for raising awareness and being a part of this force for change!

Updated January 20, 2021