Sexual Assault Survivors Plea to Lawmakers for Better Protection

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- It is estimated that one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives nationwide.

Advocates for victims of sex abuse hope those statistics grab the attention of Iowa lawmakers and were at the statehouse Wednesday to push for three bills they hope will move forward this session.

“I know that it makes a difference, I know that it helps legislatures to hear what’s happening on the ground in their community. Some are very well aware and some the issues haven’t been brought to their attention,” said Beth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The organization is pushing for three bills this session: Increased penalties for sexual misconduct in corrective systems; Including the term 'breasts' in the definition of sexual assault; Civil protective orders for sexual violence survivors.

“All three of those issues have been issues we’ve been trying to pass for several years, so I’m hoping this will be the year,” Barnhill said.

Barnhill rallied alongside 80 other advocates, some of which are survivors of sexual assault.

“It is so important that we come to these events to give the survivors a voice in situations where their voices weren’t necessarily heard, or offered or listened to,” Barnhill said.

Tiffany Flowers was sexually assaulted when she was in college by a family member. She now works for Amani Community Services helping other survivors.

She hopes sharing her story will help start the conversation for change.

“This is such a great environment to foster that voice and to link them up with individuals that can make those changes in our communities so they can be heard and have that sense of justice in their homes and feel safe,” Flowers said.

All three bills have been introduced this session.

It's the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault 20th year lobbying for this type of legislation.