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Sexual Assault In Rural Communities

Published Date: 
Saturday, September 6, 2003

Sexual Assault In Rural Communities
Susan H. Lewis
With contributions from Ellen Reed

When sexually assaulted in a rural community, victims often find that opportunities for medical, legal or emotional services are very limited, or even nonexistent. Their economic situation and geographic isolation may further limit their options. Strong community ties in rural areas mean that a victim is more likely to be acquainted with the perpetrator than in urban settings. Finally, rural culture tends to be close-knit, self-contained, often conservative and unlikely to turn to “outsiders” for assistance. Together these characteristics result in low rates of reporting, limited opportunities for victim services, and difficulties for service providers. In other words, a victim of sexual violence in a rural community is not likely to report to police or to locate or access services.

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