The month of April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States.
Imagine a world without sexual violence . . .
- In our world 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes. It works out mathematically that every 2 minutes someone is sexually-assaulted. In 2011, CL&SH worked with 111 new cases involving sexual violence. Many more incidents remain unreported.
- In our world sexual violence affects everyone. Someone you know — you, your mother, your sister, your son or daughter, your spouse or friend – - has experienced it. It has a long term impact on victims, their families and the community.
- In our world people are sold for a profit into sex slavery. They are raped over and over for the sexual gratification of customers that don’t give a second thought to where they came from or what dreams they had for their lives.
- Imagine a world without sexual violence . . .
We would have more trust, freedom, equality, respect, caring healthy relationships, dignity, and safety.
The good news is that we can create that world together. We can stop sexual violence in our community and beyond. A quote by Edward Hale speaks about beginning this daunting task. “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Each one of us has the responsibility to build a community that does not allow sexual violence.
It sounds like a very lofty goal, but how do we make the shift that is needed to accomplish it?
- The first thing we have to do is admit that sexual violence is a problem in our community just like every other community. Last year Crisis Line & Safe House worked with 111 victims of sexual violence while many more remained silent.
- We will have to stop blaming the victim for the crime perpetrated against them and encourage them to come forward and get help. How many times have you heard someone say “she should have known better than to go out late at night,” or “she shouldn’t have been in a club drinking”, or “she shouldn’t have been dressed that way”? How many times have you heard of someone that was robbed at gunpoint being blamed for being a victim?
- The traditional way of looking at the problem is with women as victims and men as perpetrators. We must shift the responsibility to men and women and make them equals in prevention.
- We must educate ourselves on the issues and once educated we must share that knowledge with people you care about.
- We must be aware of how violence is portrayed in the media and be willing to speak out when something crosses the line.
- We must avoid engaging in, supporting, or encouraging sexual harassment or any form of discrimination.
- We must support organizations that work with the issue of sexual violence with our time and money.
- We must learn about the resources in our community in order to help friends, family, and co-workers who may look to us for support.
- We must find safe ways to intervene before sexual violence occurs. If you hear inappropriate comments or observe behavior that denigrate women, find a safe way to speak up. Call the police if you see a crime in progress.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, there is help. Call (478) 745-9292 to speak with an advocate.