Jan 11, 2023
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and this week marks National Suicide Prevention Week 2022. While suicide can impact anyone, it’s a particularly relevant issue for survivors of sexual violence.
Below we will provide some important information for Suicide Prevention Week, including statistics for sexual assault survivors, resources for anyone in need, and details on how to pursue justice in civil court against a perpetrator.
A June 2022 report from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights just how common sexual violence is in the U.S.
The report included data compiled through the annual National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). The following sexual violence statistics were confirmed:
Such sexual encounters can have serious health consequences that stretch into adulthood, according to a report from Psychology Today.
The Psychology Today article further noted that the 2022 NISVS survey demonstrates that the “occurrence of sexual violence remains a persistent and serious problem” which can include myriad consequences.
Furthermore, Anne P. DePrince Ph.D. writes that decades of research demonstrates that sexual assault is linked with harms that are both immediate and long-term. Examples of such consequences include:
“In light of evidence that sexual violence is common and linked with far-ranging harms, preventing intimate violence from happening in the first place is of paramount importance. Fortunately, there is promising evidence that adolescent-focused programs can change attitudes, knowledge, and behavior related to dating violence. College bystander interventions can also make a difference in preparing young people to intervene to stop sexual violence,” Dr. DePrince wrote.
Rates of death by suicide as well as attempted suicide are significantly higher among sexual assault survivors.
A 2007 study referenced by the American Psychological Association (APA) examined the extent to which sexual assault predicted suicide attempts among adolescent students in the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey.
“Gender differences in suicidal behavior overall and among sexual assault victims were examined. The results supported that students with sexual assault histories were significantly more likely (odds ratio [OR] = 6.4) to have reported at least one suicide attempt in the past year than students who did not report sexual assault histories,” the study confirmed.
Additionally, the Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP) – a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and advocate for youth through mental health promotion, community solutions, and suicide prevention – notes that people who have been victimized by sexual violence often experience behavioral and emotional issues which put them at risk for suicide.
According to the YSPP:
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape offers the following statistics on the increased suicide risk among sexual assault survivors:
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) offers the following warning signs:
However, as the PCAR also indicates, warning signs of suicide may include any number of possibilities not listed above, often unique to an individual survivor. Accordingly, supporting survivors of sexual violence continuously and unconditionally is strongly encouraged.
During National Suicide Prevention Month, Dordulian Law Group has compiled some important resources for survivors of sexual assault and violence.
– The 988 hotline: Established in July, the new 988 hotline is available to anyone for 911-type mental health emergencies. Designed to be as easy to remember as 9-1-1, the 988 number connects callers with trained mental health counselors (rather than a dispatcher sending police, firefighters, or paramedics).
– The Crisis Text Line: To connect with a crisis counselor immediately, survivors of sexual assault may simply text “HOME” to 741741. The service is available 24/7 from anywhere in the United States. Crisis Text Line is available for any type of crisis. Moreover, a live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds, all from a secure online platform. The volunteer crisis counselor will help you “move from a hot moment to a cool moment,” according to the platform’s website.
– The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: Offered through Dordulian Law Group’s anti-sexual violence non-profit partner, RAINN, the sexual assault hotline provides 24/7 crisis support that is 100% confidential. Whether a survivor is seeking support, information, advice, or a referral, the hotline has trained specialists available 24/7.
– The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Hotline: SAMHSA offers a national helpline providing 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish. The hotline is available for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance abuse disorders.
– The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: Established with the understanding that “love is respect,” the Teen Dating Abuse Helpline can be an excellent resource for survivors of sexual violence. Survivors in need may call 866-331-9474 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522.
– The Trevor Project: An American non-profit organization, the Trevor Project focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. Through the organization’s toll-free telephone number – The Trevor Lifeline – survivors or anyone in need may access their fully confidential service offering trained counselors. You may also text “START” to 678678 to reach a Trevor Project counselor.
– Find a counselor or therapist via the American Psychological Association: Survivors of sexual violence may wish to visit the APA’s psychologist locator website to find a local and qualified clinician. Anyone may search for a psychologist in his or her area by entering some basic information.
– HeadsUpGuys: A service targeting men, HeadsUpGuys offers an informative and resourceful website complete with recommendations for how to manage and prevent depression through proven health strategies. Users may also search for a local therapist and get connected with individuals in their communities.
– The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC): The NSVRC is a national information center offering a wide range of resources for sexual violence survivors, including statistics, research, position statements, statutes, training curricula, prevention initiatives, and program information. Through the NSVRC’s website, sexual assault survivors can search and find a directory of organizations and locations nearby offering various resources and support.
Survivors of sexual violence can often face incomprehensible struggles after an incident occurs. While the experience of sexual assault is unique to the survivor, many individuals decide – often over time – to pursue a civil action for damages against a perpetrator.
A civil lawsuit can be a means of recovering financial compensation on behalf of the sexual violence survivor for losses suffered, such as emotional trauma, psychological harm, lost wages, reduced quality of life, diminished future earning capacity, and more.
Dordulian Law Group (DLG) represents survivors of sexual assault in California as well as nationwide. Our founder, Sam Dordulian, is a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County who has been fighting for justice on behalf of sexual assault survivors for more than 25 years. With a 98% success record and over 100 jury trial victories, Dordulian and his team of California sexual assault attorneys give survivors peace of mind and confidence throughout every step of the legal process.
Through his experience, Dordulian has seen the unfortunate consequences of sexual violence, and knows all-too-well how important it is to highlight suicide prevention.
“One of the most difficult aspects of this job is witnessing first-hand how devastating sexual violence can be, particularly in terms of mental health struggles and an increased rate of suicide among survivors. It’s one of the many reasons why I chose to dedicate my practice to sex crimes, and when we help a survivor secure justice for sexual assault, it’s incredibly rewarding to see the empowering effect it has,” Dordulian said.
Dordulian created DLG’s Sex Crimes Division as a four-tiered support network available to survivors 24/7. DLG’s SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) features additional resources beyond expert legal representation:
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To arrange for a free and completely confidential consultation with a member of the DLG SAJE Team, contact us today at 818-322-4056. We’ve helped clients recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts, and we will fight aggressively to help you secure the justice you deserve after a sexual violence incident.
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