Prevalence of sexual assault prompts new programs, strategies from King Co. advocates

Oct 3, 2016, 10:22 AM | Updated: Oct 5, 2016, 5:17 am
(AP stock image)
(AP stock image)

Despite the best efforts to prevent sexual assault, it remains prevalent in our state and across the nation.

Recent studies find more than 33 percent of women in Washington have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, but only about one-third sought counseling.

Since 1976, the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center has been working to change that.

A rape or forcible sex offense happens every 3.5 hours — over 4,000 a year. And 80 percent of sexual assaults happen before the victims turn 18, according to DeAnn Yamamoto, the deputy executive director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.

“Unfortunately there’s a really big need (for our services). We serve thousands of victims of sexual assault and child physical abuse every year,” Yamamoto said.

The agency says at any given time it has over 800 clients taking part in some form of their open and legal advocacy services alone, and at least 200 receiving trauma-specific therapy.

Their ultimate goal in treating the victims is helping them overcome the devastation of post-traumatic stress and learn to lead what she calls a “healthy” life.

“You know, people always strive for that normal life, but I don’t know that any of us know what normal is. But we do know what healthy is, what happy feels like. We know what joy feels like. And victim’s can feel that again, too,” Yamamoto said.

That can be particularly difficult for younger victims — nearly 26 percent suffer abuse before they are 10 years old.

The organization has developed therapies for young victims, so they can grow up and experience healthy relationships and overcome the trauma of abuse.

The focus isn’t exclusively on victims — it’s about prevention as well.

“Think about this: sexual assault is 100 percent preventable and it can end tomorrow if we end perpetration,” she said.

So how do you do that? It starts young. Yamamoto says the message has to be hammered home from an early age that victimization of any kind, including bullying, is unacceptable.

And she says there’s nothing more infuriating than hearing victim blaming or shaming – such as “he or she was drunk or wearing suggestive clothing, so they somehow brought it on themselves.”

“Part of me thinks that we do that because we’re trying to protect our own vulnerabilities,” she said. “Because as long as that exists we do allow that climate of sexual perpetration to be permissible in this society.”

But a big impediment is getting people to talk about it in general. Sexual assault is often a taboo subject. And Yamamoto says just like any other public health crisis, we have to be willing to tackle it head on.

“We have a lot of shame in talking about it, either our own victimization or just being afraid to raise it up as conversation,” Yamamoto said.

That’s why the stations of Bonneville Seattle, the Seattle Seahawks, and Carter Subaru have chosen the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center as our charity of the month.

Local News

early primary, kim wyman...
Nick Bowman

Report: Washington Sec. of State Wyman could be leaving role for new job with Biden administration

Sources tell CNN that Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman could be leaving her role for a new job with the Department of Homeland Security.
22 hours ago
vaccine, booster doses...
MyNorthwest Staff

Booster doses of COVID vaccines available in Washington for eligible individuals

Booster doses of all three COVID-19 vaccine types are now available for certain individuals in Washington, and can be safely mixed and matched.
22 hours ago
salmon hatchery...
Dalton Day

Potential ‘irreparable damage’ to Puget Sound orcas over alleged illegal salmon hatchery expansion

Conservationists allege that Fish and Wildlife has expanded salmon hatcheries without lawful compliance under SEPA, thereby damaging native salmon and orca whales.
22 hours ago
seattle relief fund...
Kathryn Altena

Mayor launches Seattle Relief Fund to help families impacted by COVID

Seattle city leaders announced the launch of a new relief fund Monday to help struggling families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
22 hours ago
MyNorthwest Staff

State recovers $495,000 in stolen unemployment benefits with ‘innovative’ legal strategy

For the first time, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has used asset forfeiture to repossess $495,000 in fraudulent unemployment claims.
22 hours ago
Washington Daylight Saving Time...
Nick Bowman

Washington looks for ‘alternative’ paths to end years-long wait for permanent Daylight Saving Time

With the state setting their clocks back again on Nov. 7, Sen. Murray says her office is ramping up work to end the twice-yearly time changes.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Prevalence of sexual assault prompts new programs, strategies from King Co. advocates