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Letter: Let's get serious about preventing sexual assault

We have a silent epidemic on our hands in this country: Sexual assault. The majority of victims are children, reportedly 70-80% of whom assaulted by someone they know.

Yet in the media you don't hear much about sexual assault unless a Catholic priest is involved. What media coverage exists serves merely to further exploit the victims, which may be causing subsequent acts of violence or destructive behavior.

Sexual assault wreaks permanent damage that no amount of drugs, alcohol, loud music, world travel, education, or, yes, even therapy, can make go away.

The guilt and shame follow the victim tirelessly, interrupts phone calls, lingers at business meetings, tags along for shopping trips, and disrupts time with family and friends.

Every two minutes in the USA someone suffers sexual assault -- 44% under age 18, 80% under 30. By the time they graduate from high school, 20% of women will have been coerced into sexual intercourse. Over half of these cases will remain unreported.

Overall, one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, one in six report rape or attempted rape. Nineteen percent of male state inmates report sexual abuse by age 18 before incarceration; for women, it's a horrifying 57%.

This is revolting and appalling. We need prevention now. As a society it is our responsibility to engender a culture that fosters more educated, aware, and respectful boys, male youth, and men.

Thankfully Turningpoint in River Falls provides fantastic services for raising awareness, as well as shelter, support, and counsel for victims.

Learn more about prevention of sexual assault at Turningpoint. The perpetrators need to be stopped.