April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

sexual assault

By Vi Waln

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) reports someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Activities are planned to increase awareness to widespread sex crimes across this country. Many victims are children. Being sexually assaulted as a child affects one for life.

There are also many people who misunderstand the dynamics of sexual assault. They mistakenly believe it is the victim’s fault when rape occurs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For instance, a local health professional spoke about sexual assault at a meeting held in Mission. She encouraged young women to be careful of how they dressed. She also went on to talk about how women put themselves in situations where they are asking to be sexually assaulted. It is hard to believe that we have health professionals who promote these misconceptions. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.

According to a recent story from KELOLAND TV, South Dakota is currently ranked second in the nation for the most sexual assaults or rapes. Residents quickly point to Indian Reservations as the source of this report. For sure, statistics from RAINN regarding the frequency of sexual crimes show that American Indian women are more than twice as likely to suffer rape, or other forms of sexual assault, in our lifetime.


The status of federal criminal cases, including sex crimes, are provided online by the US Attorney for the District of South Dakota. Charges, convictions and sentences of rapists/sex offenders comprise a majority of cases in the federal system. For instance, there have been 26 sex crime cases since January 1. As of last week, criminal suspects were charged with several types of sex crimes which fall under federal jurisdiction.

Charges listed on the US Attorney’s site include: Abusive Sexual Contact with a Person Incapable of Consent, Sexual Contact with a Minor, Receipt of Child Pornography, Abusive Sexual Contact, Prostitution Transportation, Sexual Abuse of a Minor, Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, Aggravated Sexual Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Transfer of Obscene Matter and Attempted Trafficking in Involuntary Servitude and Forced Labor (Sex Trafficking).

Also, Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child, Sexual Contact, Sexual Contact with a Minor,
Possession of Child Pornography, Sexual Exploitation of Minors, Attempted Commercial Sex Trafficking, Attempted Illicit Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Aggravated Sexual Abuse by Force,
Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child, Abusive Sexual Contact of a Child, Sexual Abuse of a Child and Abusive Sexual Contact of a Minor.

There are 15 drug cases also listed on the site. Meth use continues to grow in this country and is often a factor in sexual assault. In addition, many young victims often suffer sexual abuse in their own home. We all must be vigilant of our children to protect them from sexual assault.

There is also the probability of a man camp being established near our homelands. The recent approval of a presidential permit will allow TransCanada to begin constructing the Keystone XL pipeline soon. The project will likely see man camps established along the proposed route.

In an interview conducted by Damon Buckley, Police Chief Grace Her Many Horses talked about her experience with man camps. Crime rates do increase in proximity to a man camp, sexual assaults are especially common. Again, we have the responsibility to be vigilant with our relatives, both male and female. (See Lakota Country Times, 05-22-2014)

Our bodies and spirits are sacred. We all have to do our part to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault on our homelands.

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Published by Vi Waln


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