LANSING — State Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), co-chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus’ Gender Violence Task Force, introduced House Resolution 298 to declare April 2018 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the state of Michigan. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is intended to call attention to the pervasive nature of sexual violence, highlighting its myriad impacts on women, children and men of all racial, cultural and economic backgrounds. The National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey found that one in every six women and nearly three percent of men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes.
“Sexual violence and assault can have deep, enduring impacts on survivors on a psychological, emotional and social level, and it’s important we recognize this as a state,” Pagan said. “Women who are sexually assaulted have been found to experience greater levels of distress than survivors of any other violent crime.[i] Recognizing its prevalence, and the unique and individual needs of survivors, starts an honest conversation not only about the healing process following an assault, but about our prevention efforts.”
There has been a heightened awareness of the issues of sexual assault and child sexual abuse in light of the Larry Nassar scandal, which revealed that the former Olympic and Michigan State University doctor was able to abuse more than 200 young women and girls for more than 20 years. Though a number of Nassar’s survivors spoke up throughout the years, they were often not believed by the adults, health professionals and law enforcement officials they should have been able to trust. Nassar will spend his life in prison, and just this month the House concluded a bipartisan investigation into how MSU handled the Nassar scandal. The PWC has also unveiled a set of principles to address sexual assault on college campuses throughout the state and corresponding legislation was introduced in a bipartisan package last week.
“Sexual assault is a violent crime with public health implications and touches nearly every person in Michigan. Yet for too long, our state has left survivors unsupported, undervalued and disbelieved, and that is unacceptable,” Pagan said. “When we actively work together to increase education, awareness and community involvement, we can help prevent sexual violence, support survivors and create a safer environment for everyone.”
 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Socio-emotional Impact of Violent Crime (2014).