July 10, 2003
The report relied on two national studies and included only women 18 and older who reported a forced assault. Thus, the reported rate of rape is a conservative one, according to health officials, since it does not include assaults of girls under 18, those of men or boys, or those in which the victim was incapacitated. Federal and state health officials are saying the numbers indicate a public health crisis.
"One in eight. That's shocking and appalling and we shouldn't stand for it," said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who was among lawmakers present at the release of the study by the Sexual Assault & Trauma Resource Center of Rhode Island and the state Department of Health. "That's 56,000 of our daughters, our mothers and our neighbors and this clearly is unacceptable," said Peg Langhammer, executive director of SATRCRI.
The figures put Rhode Island 28th in the nation for the incidence of forcible rape of adult women and close to the national average of 13.4 percent, according to the report.
Health officials and legislators are calling for the state to continue its rape education and prevention efforts, provide medical and mental health treatment for victims, fund the creation of a DNA database, and develop more comprehensive post-prison tracking of convicted sexual offenders. SATRCRI proposed an eight-point plan to stop sexual violence, including early intervention for likely perpetrators, increased male involvement in preventing rape, and support for victims as they navigate the criminal justice system.