Sexual Assault is Preventable: Embrace Your Voice

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018

Sexual Assault is Preventable:
Embrace Your Voice
Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual violence is a widespread problem, but the good news is it is preventable. Prevention requires many voices and roles. There are many ways individuals, communities, and the private sector can take action to promote safety, respect, and equality.

Embrace Your Voice

This year’s theme is Embrace Your Voice! You can use your voice to create a community where survivors feel supported and believed.

Chances are, someone you know is a survivor of sexual violence. They may not have told anyone because they are afraid of being judged or blamed. That person is likely listening to your opinions and attitudes for clues as to how you may respond.

The words you choose every day let people know your values. Speak up so that others know you believe survivors and do not believe in stereotypes or make light of sexual violence.

A History of Sexual Assault Awareness

THE IMPACT OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men are victims of rape and 25% of girls and 17% of boys will be the victim of sexual assault before they turn 18. But all of us are impacted by sexual violence. That’s because sexual violence affects communities and society — in addition to survivors and their loved ones. Because of this, it’s on all of us to help prevent it.

Sexual violence is a widespread problem. Sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, non-stranger rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism. It is a crime typically motivated by the desire to control, humiliate, and/or harm — not by sexual desire.

Sexual violence violates a person’s trust and feelings of safety. It happens to people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, professions, incomes, and ethnicities.

Sexual violence affects men, women, children, families, partners, communities: every facet of society.

Sexual violence is preventable.

We can all help create a culture of empathy, respect, and equity. Prevention starts with challenging victim-blaming and believing survivors when they disclose. In your personal life, you can model supportive relationships and behaviors and speak up when you hear sexist, racist, transphobic, or homophobic comments. Each of us is essential in challenging harmful attitudes and the societal acceptance of rape.

What is prevention?

Prevention aims to stop sexual violence before it has a chance to happen. It is possible to create communities where everyone is treated with respect and equality. This can be done by promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies, and healthy relationships. Prevention strategies that address the root causes and social norms that allow sexual violence to exist in the first place are the most effective. This means making the connection between all forms of oppression (including racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, adultism, ageism, and others). Oppression creates a culture in which inequality thrives and violence is seen as normal. Many communities are already reducing the risk of sexual violence through efforts that promote safety, respect, equality, and accountability.

Understanding the role of oppression

All forms of oppression contribute to sexual violence. Oppression condones violence, uses power over others, and excuses unfair treatment and harm. Consider how sexism, racism, and transphobia are used to silence violence and abuse. What are other examples?

Prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

What you can do

As individuals, all of us have a role to play in creating safe environments. We can all:
• Intervene to stop problematic and disrespectful behavior
• Promote and model healthy attitudes, behaviors, and relationships
• Believe survivors and assist them in finding resources

What communities can do

Communities and organizations also have a role to play in serving as leaders on this issue by:
• Creating and strengthening policies to promote safety, equality, and respect
• Assessing the risks in their environment• Promoting respectful behaviors
• Providing support for survivors
• Holding those who harm others accountable and ensuring that appropriate treatment options are available

Be a part of the solution

The time for prevention is now. Join us in promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies, and healthy relationships. Your efforts are important and necessary. Together, we can create safe and equitable communities where every person is treated with respect.

Safe sex(uality): Talking about what you want and need is a great tool to use in learning more about healthy sexuality.

Sexuality is more than sex, and healthy sexuality affects us on emotional, cultural, physical and social levels. Sexuality is a part of each person, but it doesn’t stop there. Communities and society as a whole are impacted by the ways we talk about sex. Think about the messages that have been shared with you about sex and sexuality. Do you think this information has been positive and helpful to you and others? What would you have liked to learn or see others learn?

Consider unhealthy messages and behaviors you have seen or heard. Take time to recognize any negative or unhelpful information that you may need to unlearn and challenge.

Understanding what healthy sexuality looks and feels like is an important part of creating a vision for social change.

Can you picture what your life, family, friends, school, and community would look like if everyone felt supported in working toward healthy sexuality? How would people be treated? What would be different in your life if people treated one another with respect and challenged unhealthy messages?

Where can I learn more?

Local sexual assault centers can provide help. In crisis situations, contact 1-800-656-4673.

For more information, visit www.nsvrc.org.

Related Reading: 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Embrace Your Voice

#MeToo- Sexual Assault in High School by Rebekah Harding

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: The Basics

Gender Based Violence by Grace Schoettmer

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