Federal edition of 'rape' is changing - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Federal edition of 'rape' is changing

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KENNEWICK, Wash.—The federal government announced Friday that the definition of 'rape' is now changing.  In many states, a man could not legally be a victim.  However, for years it has been included in Washington's state law.  Now the question is, will this change bring awareness to the Tri-Cities?

Shawn Sant, Franklin County Prosecutor says the new nationwide change will help when it comes to reporting.

"It was just done to try and tabulate statistics so that they're getting the same information from each state," says Shawn Sant, Franklin County Prosecutor.

The big issue is most sexual abuse goes unreported entirely, especially when it comes to men.

"Male victims already have a hard time coming forward just because of stereotypes and society views on male victims and so having the law support them is extremely important," says Angel Wolski, SARC.

From June 2010 to July 2011 SARC saw 371 victims, 15% of which were male.  The following tracking year they saw 230 victims, 14% were male.

"We get over 400 calls on the crisis line and those aren't even included in our stats," says Wolski.

So, if most cases are never known, even with our updated law, will the new federal law make any impact locally?  SARC representatives say yes.

"I think it might bring more awareness especially to those who aren't always looking at the Washington State law. They don't realize there's a difference between the Washington State law and the national law," says Wolski

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse call SARC at 374-5391.