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Press Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office Commemorates Sexual Assault Awareness Month

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky

Louisville, KY - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky joined the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) and the Department of Justice as a whole, as well as advocates, survivors, victim service providers, justice professionals, police and first responders, and communities across the U.S., in observing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). “I encourage the public to join with us in raising awareness and supporting survivors,” said U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett.

Sexual assault includes any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by federal, tribal, or state law, including when victims lack the capacity to consent. “It is a serious crime that affects far too many in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Bennett. More than half of women and nearly one-third of men experience physical sexual violence during their lifetimes, according to CDC survey data. Also, women and racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately impacted when it comes to sexual violence. American Indian, Alaska Native, and multiracial women report rape victimization more than 1.5 times the national rate. Additionally, lesbian women, gay men, and bisexual women and men report experiencing sexual violence, rape, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, and sexual harassment in a public place at higher rates than heterosexual men and women. Further, people with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than that of people without disabilities, according to an analysis of Department of Justice data.

Online harassment and abuse is also very harmful. Cybercrimes, such as the sharing of intimate images of someone without their consent, are often used to intimidate, coerce, stalk, or harass a victim. Virtual acts of sexual violence can cause a victim to experience substantial trauma and fear for their physical safety. “Our Office is fully committed to holding perpetrators accountable and supporting all victims throughout the legal process, ensuring their rights are protected and their voices are heard,” said U.S. Attorney Bennett.

Due to the prevalence of sexual assault in our society and its traumatic impact on victims, it is critically important to create supportive environments for anyone harmed and teach young people ways to prevent sexual assault. It is especially necessary to reach young people with information and resources about sexual violence because CDC survey data shows over 80 percent of rape survivors report that they were first raped before age 25. During this month of awareness, we can discuss ways to prevent sexual assault in our communities through bystander intervention and empower survivors through mobilization of allies.

DOJ-funded programs provide valuable resources to enhance prevention efforts, increase availability of trauma-informed services for survivors, and support law enforcement initiatives. OVW and the Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) grant recipients lead programs that meaningfully and compassionately address sexual violence and promote victim safety. During the 2023 fiscal year, organizations providing essential services to sexual assault survivors in the Western District of Kentucky were awarded over $782,036 in grant funding under OVW’s State and Territory Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalitions Program and OVW’s Transitional Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program to further their support of sexual assault survivors. In addition, the Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet was awarded $2,445,428 under OVW’s STOP (Services, Training, Officers, and Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grants Program to develop programs to end gender-based violence and hold offenders accountable. “I encourage victim services providers and justice partners across our District to learn more about the federal grant funding opportunities available to further bolster coordinated community responses to sexual assault in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Bennett. is an excellent source of information on federal grants across all federal agencies, including active DOJ grant funding opportunities.

“As we near the end of April and of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we must rededicate ourselves to increasing public awareness, supporting survivors, and ending sexual violence in all forms, not just in April, but all year round” said U.S. Attorney Bennett.

If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced sexual violence, you are not alone. There are many services available to help. Connect with a counselor anonymously by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). In addition, you can find a local resources page on OVW’s website, which lists resources and services in your area, as well as opportunities to get involved. If you or someone is in immediate danger, call 911.


Updated April 25, 2024