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Rape can breed more crime

| April 20, 2010 9:00 PM

If you're tempted to pigeonhole an addict, or perhaps a prison inmate with a drug history, consider a few statistics during April - Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

• National sources state 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have been sexually assaulted at some time in life, although as it's so underreported and thus undertreated (recurring depression and PTSD are common), experts estimate real numbers are up to twice that. Seventy-five percent (for children, 93 percent) of all victims know their attackers, which further affects other relationships.

• Victims of sexual assault/abuse are 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. Effects last a lifetime when untreated.

• In state prisons a third to over half of inmates in each crime category abused drugs/alcohol. A third or more in each category grew up with parents who did the same.

• Kids left in abusive homes are 27 percent more likely to become violent criminals or abuse drugs. Four out of 10 of those children who later need to be placed in foster care commit violent crimes as adults.

• Those abused or neglected as a child are 13 times more likely to abuse or neglect their children.

The lists of incidence and harm go on. While not every victim succumbs to drugs or crime, sexual abuse affects entire communities for generations, with repeated cycles and coping problems manifesting in poor school and work performance, "self-medication," difficulties in personal relationships, and worse. The irony is that while rape and sex abuse are so underreported because it feels like such a private crime, it has some of the most public effects.

That's why it's so important to get involved and stay involved by volunteering, donating, or reporting, even when the system seems slow or the situation complicated.

Several local agencies help with free services and need support: CASA represents kids in abuse/neglect cases (208) 667-9165; ICARE helps at-risk families by teaching parents better skills (208) 676-1515; and The Women's Center offers a confidential rape crisis hotline (208) 661-2522.

The Women's Center's annual champagne and cheesecake fundraiser is May 8. For information call (208) 664-9303.

Sholeh Patrick, J.D., is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Sholehjo@hotmail.com

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