Let's start with the facts, from RAINN, and then I would like to take a little bit of time to unpack some concerns I have over documentaries like "The Hunting Ground", sexual assault training that either blames men or plays a game of "who has it worse.
To begin with, some nifty charts from RAINN.org
What I would like to point out with these graphics is that 18-24 college age women, are 3x more likely to be sexually assaulted if they are in college and 4x more likely if they are not in college as compared to other women of remaining age groups. This corresponds with (Langton 2014) who found that among women of college age, non-college females were 1.2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault. While (Langton 2014) it has also been found that sexual assault victimizations were more likely to go unreported to police for students (80%) than non-students (67%) some of the other factors for underreporting tend to go hand in hand for the two similar age populations.
This notably differs from research of male respondents that shows that college men are 5x more likely to be survivors of rape or sexual assault than non-students.
Why is this important? On the one hand, it is not. Our job in being there for survivors is to be there no matter what...it is not to play games in regard to who is the most victimized. If we were to play such a game, Native Americans aged 12 or older experience 5900 sexual assaults per year and are twice as likely to experience rape/sexual assault compared to other races (source RAINN https://rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence). So, if this were a "we should spend our resources where there is greatest need....we would be investing so much more in regard to helping Native American survivors.
The reason I bring up these statistics though and these charts is because I feel that for as much good documentaries such as "The Hunting Ground" have done, they have focused the lens of our social justice on college campuses in a way that gives the impression that this is where all of this kind of violence occurs. The danger in that is in not serving the communities we are supposed to serve better with a less myopic view. Further, it politicizes a discussion away from a broader focus on better resourcing a variety of solutions in our communities outside of the campus setting.
Again, ultimately, in a client centered model it does not matter what demographic a survivor is coming from ....our job is to offer help.
But, this brings me to my other concern of focus. ...that being the oversimplification of discussion about sexual violence as regards men, both as survivor and as perpetrator
The recent CDC findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6308a1.htm?s_cid=ss6308a1_w) demonstrate that although prevalence of rape is still predominantly among women (19.3% compared to 1.7% for men), 23.4% of men compared to 43.9% of women survive sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes, a fact that often does not enter our discussions on sexual violence .
Further, from the CDC report found...
"For female rape victims, an estimated 99.0% had only male perpetrators. In addition, an estimated 94.7% of female victims of sexual violence other than rape had only male perpetrators. For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (an estimated 79.3%) had only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims had only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (an estimated 82.6%), sexual coercion (an estimated 80.0%), and unwanted sexual contact (an estimated 54.7%). For noncontact unwanted sexual experiences, nearly half of male victims (an estimated 46.0%) had only male perpetrators and an estimated 43.6% had only female perpetrators."
This paints a picture that still "male heavy" shows that females also contribute as sexual violence perpetrators. What triggers me about has to do with a webinar I attended which tried to 1) lay all of the fault for sexual violence at the feet of men as a class 2) tried to explain it with social darwinistic evolutionary biology theory that casts men as pure agressors (and which I affectionally call useless garbage science) and 3) underplays the role women currently play in this violence...with indications that those numbers are rising.
Look.... these kinds of sex/gender politics in regard to victim and perpetrator or based on "who has it worse" do none of us any good and do NOT help us address better research to understand the problem or find real solutions in our communities. Ultimately we should be treating each survivor with so much awe that they even came to us and then we should be listening to their story and helping them get through it without playing blame games, or anything like that which only tends to scapegoat at best and detracts from healing at worst.