April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a national effort to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
Sexual assault is a pervasive and unfortunately common occurrence. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. This means someone you know has likely been a victim of sexual assault.
Listen. Believe. Support.
Sexual violence exists on a continuum. Crude comments, offensive jokes, unwanted touching, exposure, and sexual assault are all components of an environment tolerant of sexual violence. Ending sexual violence involves recognizing the many ways it impacts us each day.
We hope openly discussing sexual assault will empower survivors and engage people to Listen, Believe and Support as we work toward a community that does not tolerate violence.
To #bethechange, be open and ready to listen to stories of sexual violence experienced by others.
Never pressure someone you know into telling you their story; you can let them know you are available if they ever need to talk. Read more on helping a friend.
Speaking up in an environment where the perfect victim is expected and we are hardwired for victim blaming is very difficult. Often when a person makes an accusation of abuse or harassment there are a large number of skeptics. We must do our part in believing the stories of abuse or harassment we hear. The first step in addressing the problem is acknowledging it exists and focusing our efforts in solving it.
While every survivor and story is different, being informed will make you a better ally and supporter of survivors. Educate yourself and others on the impacts of sexual violence. While it is important to listen to the experiences of survivors, it is not the responsibility of survivors to educate you on the dynamics of sexual violence. Support survivors by learning more about your national and community resources and support your local rape crisis centers.