Prioritizing the problems

Sexual assault and abuse statistics are difficult to fully comprehend without comparing numbers.  They are also difficult to get exact, but let’s take what seem the be the most accepted numbers at 1 in 6 for American women and 1 in 33 for American men.  In 2010, the US population was recorded at 311,591,917. 50.8% were female, leaving 49.2% being male.  That means there were approximately 158,288,694 females and 153,303,223 males.

With the statistics listed above, that comes to 26,381,449.5 (let’s round to 26,381,450) females and 4,645,552 (we’ll round the extra .17 down despite my urge to suggest there are probably many more than this) males having been sexually assaulted in the U.S.  That comes to a grand total of 31,027,002 people based on widely accepted estimates.  Mind you, some estimates are as high as 1 in 3 or 4 females and 1 in 5 or 6 males – which would make for much higher numbers.  Even if you take the numbers I’ve come up with, that’s 10% of the population.  If you go with the less conservative figures, you find that the total becomes 65,122,712 (20.9%) Americans who have experienced a sexual assault.

So, somewhere between 31 million and 65 million is the most likely number.  With the average of the two numbers being 47 million, it sounds like a large number… like something should be done about this… like it’s an epidemic!!  I mean, if 47 million people had H1N1 when it went on a spree, the world (not just the U.S.) would have panicked.

Instead, very little is done by the United States government.  They offer quick sound bites about sexual assault… especially when talking about abortion, but they don’t really do much of anything.  Here’s the interesting part: as of 2010, the United States had approximately 49.9 million people without health care coverage.  About 16.3% of the population.  In case you don’t get American news… or you’ve been living in the hat of a small leprechaun off the shores of Madagascar, the health care debate has been a very hot one for many years here.  Because so many people have no health insurance.

Let’s go back to the conservative figure, though.  31 million.  Let’s put that into a little perspective using the 2010 U.S. census (rounding to the nearest million – and please remember people identified themselves as such, not me).

  • 39 million exclusively black/African-American
  • 50 million Latino/Hispanic
  • 15 million Asian

Note the how the numbers compare to the numbers of sexual assault survivors.  Other statistics on hot topics/causes of the day from various reports and studies (years vary, numbers are rounded, etc.):

  • 9 million people follow non-Christian religions (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.)
  • 34 million people have no religion (atheists/agnostics)
  • 29 million people within Lutheran, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian combined
  • 22 million military veterans
  • 4 million babies born each year in the U.S.
  • 16 million children living in poverty in the U.S.
  • Between 1.2 and 1.6 million abortions are performed every year
  • 50 million people without health insurance
  • 209,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer (2008)
  • 2.6 million breast cancer survivors
  • 11,000 fatalities due to a legally drunk driver
  • 5.2 million children have ever been diagnosed with ADHD
  • 1-1.5 million people have an autism spectrum disorder
  • 370,000 pregnancies per year for females aged 15-19 (no readily available stats on how many are from abuse/assault)
  • 47 million (remember that averaged statistic of abuse/assault?) recipients of Social Security
  • 47.5 million Medicaid enrollees

How many of those issues/people are fought for?  How many times a day do you hear someone mention at least 2 or 3 of these issues/people?   How many do you interact with on a daily basis?  Most of the statistics are lower than the conservative numbers for survivors of sexual assault/abuse.  And all of them are below the more liberal statistics of sexual assault/abuse rates.  Yet, our lawmakers sit back and do so little.  They make victims pay for rape kits, they throw out criminal cases for various reasons like they’re last week’s tuna casserole, they redefine rape as having to be forcible – because they have this crazy notion that unless you’re bloody and bruised, it’s not rape.

It’s appalling to me!  Yes, all the other people listed in the above statistics deserve notice and help, too.  I will never deny that!  But, why are our voices silent?  Why doesn’t the current presidential race inundate itself with messages of how the laws will change to seek justice for rapists, pedophiles, etc.?  Why aren’t there debates about how long we should put a child rapist in jail instead of how long do we jail potheads?!  Just once, I’d like to hear a front running presidential candidate offer a speech exclusively about sexual violence instead of whether solar power is a reliable source of energy.  All I want is a world without sexual violence… why won’t they at least help us?

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