Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice Release Rape Study
Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., has accepted a study on sexual violence in Utah, completed by the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ). The study "Rape in Utah" was developed and administered by CCJJ, in conjunction with the Office of Crime Victim Reparations. The study surveys Utah women about their experience with sexual violence. The results provide a better understanding of sexually related violence in our state, the impact on victims, and the effectiveness of response mechanisms.
"We have asked CCJJ, the Sexual Violence Council and the Sentencing Commission to develop a comprehensive strategy to address sexual assault in Utah, from prevention to sex offender monitoring," said Governor Huntsman.
A national study had earlier estimated that twenty percent of women in Utah would be raped during their lifetime. However, the study by CCJJ found the number is closer to twelve percent.
The study is a result of a survey of Utah women 18 years of age or older. According to the results, approximately one in eight women in Utah will be raped sometime during their lifetime. Additionally, almost one in three women in Utah will be sexually assaulted in some form during their lifetime. The survey found that women are rarely assaulted by strangers, less then ten percent of the time, but are more typically assaulted by acquaintances, friends or family members. "These findings indicate sexual violence is more prevalent in our community than many of us would like to believe. Often the victims are our children. We found that about 80 percent of the victims reported that their first sexual assault occurred before turning 16 years of age. Less than ten percent report it to police," said Mike Haddon, Director of Research with the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.
Rape and sexual assault are hidden crimes, rarely discussed in public. In fact, the survey found that those assaulted were much more concerned about friends or family members discovering the assault than getting pregnant or a sexually transmitted disease. "We need to create an environment where victims of sexual assault are more comfortable approaching others for any assistance or support they need. This issue is far too critical not to address it with tangible actions," said Governor Huntsman.
"It's been said that a great society is measured by how well it protects women and children. This report is a grim reminder that we need to do more here in Utah to guarantee everyone is safe," said Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General. "I look forward to working with Governor Huntsman and this group to make sure victims are willing to come forward to report assaults and that everything will be done to bring these perpetrators to justice."
Child molestation was the most common form of sexual assault reported (14.4 percent of respondents), followed closely by rape (12.7 of respondents) The survey found that women who had been sexually victimized were much more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. Only 8.2 percent of sexual assault victims sought medical attention following their attack.
The report is online at www.justice.utah.gov/research/crime/rapeinutah.pdf
*For more information contact: Mike Haddon (801) 538-1047 or 391-293