April 6, 2012
Concord, NH - Sexual violence is a public health issue that at times is overlooked. It can take many forms, including rape, child sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The recently released National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reported that in 2010, the lifetime prevalence of sexual violence by any perpetrator against women in New Hampshire was 23.5% (for rape) and 51.2% (for sexual violence other than rape). The 2011 New Hampshire Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that 6.1% of respondents answering yes to “having been physically forced to have sex when they did not want to.”
"Anyone can be the victim of sexual violence,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health Services (DPHS) at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “The misperception is that it only happens to certain people. What is also a myth is that the victim has provoked the situation. No one asks to be the victim of sexual violence and we need to do more to reduce these numbers.”
Through its Injury Prevention Program, DPHS supports sexual violence prevention through the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and its member programs and crisis centers. One of those centers, Turning Points Network in Sullivan County, recently released the Media Messaging Project. This project grew out of several years of research and focus groups among area teenagers. Teens were asked about their knowledge and attitudes regarding sexual violence. These results were analyzed by a group of teens who then went on to serve as partners in developing key messages and concepts to counter misperceptions and provide vital information. “From crafting messages to designing web content, these project partners, these teens, were critical to our success,” said Deborah Mozden, Director of Turning Points Network.
The Media Messaging Project was recently launched and includes a Youtube video, a Facebook page, and new teen web content on the Turning Point Network site. Evaluations are going to be done to assess the effectiveness of the campaign. “We’re working with the Division of Public Health to see if the project has made a difference in correcting some of the misinformation we heard in the focus groups,” continued Mozden.
For more information about National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and sexual violence in general, please visit the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at www.nhcadsv.org. To view the Media Messaging Project and find out more details, go to www.free-to-soar-org. If you’re a victim of sexual violence, please call the 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-277-5570.
Sexual assault awareness is one of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week in recognition of National Public Health Week; for more information go to www.nphw.org.