NH DHHS - Public Health Works to Raise Awareness about Sexual Violence

Concord, NH - Sexual violence is a public health issue that at times is

overlooked. It can take many forms, including rape, child sexual abuse, and

sexual harassment. April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

The recently released National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey

reported that in 2010, the lifetime prevalence of sexual violence by any

perpetrator against women in New Hampshire was 23.5% (for rape) and 51.2%

(for sexual violence other than rape). The 2011 New Hampshire Youth Risk

Behavior Survey indicated that 6.1% of respondents answering yes to “having

been physically forced to have sex when they did not want to.”

“Anyone can be the victim of sexual violence,” said Dr. José Montero,

Director of Public Health Services (DPHS) at the New Hampshire Department

of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “The misperception is that it only

happens to certain people. What is also a myth is that the victim has

provoked the situation. No one asks to be the victim of sexual violence and

we need to do more to reduce these numbers.”

Through its Injury Prevention Program, DPHS supports sexual violence

prevention through the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual

Violence and its member programs and crisis centers. One of those centers,

Turning Points Network in Sullivan County, recently released the Media

Messaging Project. This project grew out of several years of research and

focus groups among area teenagers. Teens were asked about their knowledge

and attitudes regarding sexual violence. These results were analyzed by a

group of teens who then went on to serve as partners in developing key

messages and concepts to counter misperceptions and provide vital

information. “From crafting messages to designing web content, these

project partners, these teens, were critical to our success,” said Deborah

Mozden, Director of Turning Points Network.

The Media Messaging Project was recently launched and includes a Youtube

video, a Facebook page, and new teen web content on the Turning Point

Network site. Evaluations are going to be done to assess the effectiveness

of the campaign. “We’re working with the Division of Public Health to see

if the project has made a difference in correcting some of the

misinformation we heard in the focus groups,” continued Mozden.

For more information about National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and

sexual violence in general, please visit the New Hampshire Coalition

Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at www.nhcadsv.org . To view the Media

Messaging Project and find out more details, go to www.free-to-soar-org . If

you’re a victim of sexual violence, please call the 24-hour Sexual Assault

Hotline at 1-800-277-5570.

Sexual assault awareness is one of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week

in recognition of National Public Health Week; for more information go to

www.nphw.org .