COLORADO SPRINGS — According to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1 in 4 women will experience some sort of sexual violence in their life. Sexual violence affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. While we're making progress in Colorado, our state still has a sexual violence rate that is higher than the national average. Colorado's sexual violence rate is 23.8 percent, compared to the national average, of 18.3.
Brie Franklin is the Executive Director of CCASA. Franklin says there's a lot contributing to Colorado's sexual assault rate. She points out there is still a culture of victim blaming.
"Survivors often take a long time to report it, because they are in trauma and crisis," Franklin said. "They are going through their own process of sorting through their feelings," she said.
Franklin also points out we don't talk about sexual assault enough, which can stigmatize the issue further.
"People need to learn what a healthy relationship is and what consent is, in order to understand what it isn't," she explained.
The good news is two bills were passed in Colorado's last legislative session that focus on civil justice. Senate Bill 88 allows survivors in Colorado to sue the perpetrators and institutions who hurt them.
"We need to believe survivors when they come forward. It is not our job to decide what happened and what didn't happen," Franklin explained.
The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Violence, also has a "You have the Right" Campaign, where they provide resources to people who are victims, whether or not they want to report it.
What about the sexual assault rate in Southern Colorado? Franklin says there isn't a state wide system for collecting this type of data. Law enforcement agencies often have crime reports that provide this information, but they aren't required to. Long story short, it's going to take some time to get an exact number. Franklin says sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in the U.S.; A number, still would not would not paint a full picture of what is happening.
Here's a list of other available resources in Southern Colorado: