Rape Prevention Education Program
What Is Rape Prevention Education (RPE)
Rape is a crime of violence and control—and Montana, despite its rural status, is not immune to this crime. In 2010, 293 sexual assaults were reported to the Montana Board of Crime Control. Since rape is acknowledged as one of the most under-reported crimes, most experts see these numbers as conservative estimates.
To assist Montana in ending sexual violence, the state receives Rape Prevention Education (RPE) funds; however, it wasn’t until 2006 that the state focused its efforts on primary prevention of sexual assault. Since 2006, the goal of Montana’s RPE Program (housed in DPHHS's STD/HIV Section) has been to reduce the statewide incidence of sexual violence through primary prevention efforts focused on influencing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of those most at risk to perpetrate.
Defining Sexual Violence
Sexual violence is a sex act completed or attempted against a victim's will or when a victim is unable to consent due to age, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It may involve actual or threatened physical force, use of guns or other weapons, coercion, intimidation or pressure. Sexual violence also includes intentional touching of the genitals, anus, groin, or breast against a victim's will or when a victim is unable to consent.
Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment.
Rape is a common form of sexual assault and can be committed in a variety of situations: on a date, by a friend or an acquaintance, or by a stranger. Often rape involves impairment of the victim by alcohol or “date rape” drugs which can be slipped into a drink when a victim is not looking. Attackers use date rape drugs to make a person unable to resist assault. These drugs can also cause memory loss so the victim doesn’t know what happened.
Rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault — no matter where or how it happens. (Adapted from http://www.womenshealth.gov).
Defining Primary Prevention
Montana’s RPE program focuses on primary prevention: preventing sexual violence crimes before they occur. Efforts include community organizing and policy creation focused on gender equity. It also includes education on several levels based on healthy relationships and awareness activities that support healthy relationships and respect.
Legislatively Approved Uses for RPE Funds
The RPE program is committed to the following legislatively approved activities:
- Primary prevention training programs for professionals;
- Preparation and distribution of primary prevention informational material;
- Workshops for K-12 students and college students as well as school personnel designed to reduce the incidence of sexual assault among our student populations;
- Other efforts to increase awareness to help prevent sexual assault, including efforts to increase awareness in underserved communities and among individuals with disabilities;
- Coalition building;
- Community mobilization;
- Policy and norms change.