Every Survivor Counts and Needs to be Counted.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

As a survivor, I know how vitally important it is to support those who have experienced sexual violence and ensure we continue working to make everyone safer from abuse in any form.

To that end, I worked diligently for over three years – with Democrats and Republicans – to modernize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). And, I am proud to say after a lot of diligent work my bipartisan, modernized VAWA recently became law which updates, improves, and renews the program to better meet these goals.

For these efforts to be most effective, however, the federal government must ensure these resources are reaching those so desperately in need of them. Each year, nearly 350,000 people are raped or are subjected to an attempted rape, and one-in-five women in the U.S. experience a rape or attempted rape during their lifetime.

These statistics are alarming, and yet the numbers don’t even tell the whole story.

One reason is because some survivors don’t report the incident to the police. But it’s also because of Washington bureaucracy’s confusing case counting that lacks clarity and consistency. There are four federal agencies managing at least ten efforts to collect data on sexual violence and these same agencies are using 23 different terms to describe sexual violence.

The lack of clarity around the definition is causing confusion. The result is varying estimates ranging from 244,190 rape or sexual assault victimizations in a single year to as many as 1,929,000 victims of rape or attempted rape during the same period.

In 2016 the Government Accountability Office, which found the inconsistencies could be hindering our efforts, said accurate data is vitally important “to preventing, addressing, and understanding the consequences of these types of crimes.” And the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has the authority to coordinate federal statistics, has still not made any effort to fix the problem.

Squeal Award: OMB

Every survivor counts and needs to be counted because we won’t end this epidemic of abuse if we aren’t properly identifying and measuring it.

That is why I am giving my April 2022 Squeal Award to OMB for ignoring this issue and, as a result, compromising our efforts to address sexual violence.

As part of the VAWA reauthorization, we directed the U.S. Attorney General to resolve these differences once and for all.  Along with Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, I am asking the Attorney General to take swift action and enact this law so we can improve our efforts to understand, address, prevent, and define sexual violence.

Do you have an example of government waste or inefficiencies that I should take a look at? Send me an email by clicking here.

Thank you!