Floor Speech on Contraceptives for Sexual Assault Survivors in Hospital Emergency Rooms
Tuesday, March 4, 2003:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Standing Committee Report Number 838.
Mr. Speaker, the statistics on sexual assault in our country and Hawaii are staggering. One in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. One out every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In 2001, the Department of the Attorney General reported a 16.8% increase in reported forcible rape in Hawaii from 2000.
However, research indicates that less than 30% of all sexual assaults are reported. If everything were reported, the statistics would drastically increase. Personally, I have friends who have never reported or sought help for their sexual assault.
When I was a student leader at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I served on the Sexual Harassment Policy Committee and was astounded to hear the stories of sexual assault just at the college level, many of which were not reported beyond the University's sexual assault counselor. Part of the problem is that our society is very quiet about this crisis. Consequently, survivors feel unsupported or even at fault for their predicament.
House Bill 189 House Draft 2 takes a positive step in their healing process. This measure will help inform sexual assault survivors of all options available to them including emergency contraceptives for sexual assault survivors in emergency rooms.
After the attack, many of these women and girls are traumatized and may not be able to think clearly. Many survivors develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the same disorder suffered by survivors of war. This measure will help our women and girls at the beginning of their lifelong struggle. As statistics indicate, many will eventually face drug abuse, eating disorders, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and even suicide, in addition to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Restricting information and options available at our hospitals does not make the process any easier for them. We must do all we can to support survivors, and not re-victimize them by withholding all options available in their time of need.
Mr. Speaker, seven years ago, when I was in college, I tried to do what I could to help a friend who survived a rape she experienced as a teenager that was not reported. My friend implied that there was nothing I could do. I entered politics determined to make a difference, especially for those who feel abandoned. And so today I stand before the House of Representatives in support of this measure to send a message to the women and girls of Hawaii that they are not alone. I want them to know that their leaders will do all they can to ensure sexual assault survivors have all information and options before them because their welfare is the top priority.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.