A person is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the United States. Despite this, Arizona is one of few states that does not allocate state funding to sexual assault services such as rape crisis centers. This needs to change.
Sexual assault is a deeply traumatic experience, and the impact of sexual violence doesn’t end after the assault. In the words of one survivor: “It’s not over when you walk away [if you can walk away] – I vacillate between I am really scared and I can have courage today.” Healing from sexual violence can be a long journey. Survivors should not have to do it alone.
As #MeToo has motivated more and more survivors to come forward, there is an urgent need for Arizona to develop the infrastructure to ensure all sexual assault survivors have access to services in their communities. Currently, Arizona has no stand-alone rape crisis centers — safe places that are accessible 24/7 and provide sexual assault services to survivors throughout the lifespan, whether the abuse happened 10 years ago or yesterday, at age 2 or 92, at the hands of a family member, teacher, or mentor…or all of the above.
State funding for sexual assault services would allow for more advocates trained in working with sexual assault survivors, and increase the number of therapists statewide who specialize in addressing sexual trauma. Funding would expand the availability of crisis lines and support groups for survivors of different ages, genders, and backgrounds, and contribute to the development of rape crisis centers. With funding, more survivors will heal.
Sexual assault survivors in Arizona deserve to have support and options when it comes to services and healing. The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence urges Arizona legislators to allocate state funding for sexual assault services in this year’s budget. The economy is strong and Arizona has a budget surplus this year. It’s time to show survivors of sexual violence that we stand with them, and their healing matters.
Tasha Menaker is co-chief executive officer of Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.