MASON CITY, Iowa - According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men in the U.S. have experienced or attempted rape at some time in their lives. Last year in Iowa, there were nearly 3,000 convictions for sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.
Throughout the month of April, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are bringing awareness of a program aimed to protect survivors of sexual assault. The 'Safe at Home' program provides a legal substitute address, mail forwarding and confidential voter registration. So far, about 660 participants in over 60 counties are enrolled in the program.
Throughout the pandemic, nurse examiner coordinator Katy Rasmussen says that convictions have been fairly low.
"We want to make sure people are aware that sexual assault is a medical emergency, and that people have the right to be seen and get the medical care they need, and to get treatment and support after that assault."
Pate hopes the program can shake off the stigma behind reporting such an incident.
"They're already a victim of a rape. Then they internalize the guilt part of it, and don't report it to get the help they need to get past it to resume some sense of normalcy. It also it makes it harder for us to get convictions and send a message on that front as well."
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the program, click here. To report an incident, call the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-284-7821.