Sexual assault has become central in the presidential campaign as women continue to come forward with allegations against Donald Trump of unwanted sexual contact. Trump denies he has ever touched women without their consent, but has sought to make allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton an issue in Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The constant coverage can be overwhelming for victims of sexual assault who are constantly bombarded with descriptions of unwanted sexual contact. A recent Gallup poll also shows there has been a slight uptick in the number of women who report being afraid of being sexually assaulted. Thirty-four percent, or one in three U.S. women, report worrying frequently or occasionally they will be assaulted. This is up from 30 percent in 2013 through 2015.
The question was asked as part of Gallup’s annual Crime Poll, which was conducted both before and after the release of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. Gallup found no increase in responses reporting fear of sexual assault after the tape was aired.
Women continue to have a much higher fear than men of being sexually assaulted, with only 5 percent of men reporting that fear. Younger women in particular are afraid of being violated, with 42 percent of women under age 50 saying they worry about sexual assault. Only 25 percent of women over age 50 report worrying about it.
Participants were also asked whether they or a member of their household were victims of sexual assault in the last year. One percent of Americans said they had been.
Talk of sexual assault in the presidential campaign has increased calls to a national hotline for victims. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reported that after the release of the Trump tape, calls increased 33 percent. The organization’s founder, Scott Berkowitz, said there is typically higher call volume to the line where victims can seek support services after high-profile stories of sexual assault.
“It’s certainly become a much bigger part of the election than we ever anticipated,” Berkowitz told the Washington Post. “It’s a positive that the country’s talking about this issue and acknowledging it and that we’re not pretending it doesn’t exist, but certainly it’s disheartening at the same time.”
Trump refutes the claims of sexual assault against him, accusing the women of wanting “15 minutes of fame” and has said some of the accusers are not attractive enough for him to assault.