Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18. Sexual harassment, assault and abuse are serious issues impacting our community, affecting all people, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or economic status. This violence can have long-term effects on survivors. The likelihood that a person suffers suicidal or depressive thoughts increases after sexual violence. People who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs, and sexual violence also affects survivors’ relationships with family, significant others and friends.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and an opportune time to discuss the ways our community can join together to complete two imperative goals: Raise awareness about sexual violence and create a community-led plan to lessen its prevalence.
It is difficult to confront an issue about which little is known beyond the myths that circulate in our culture. We can deepen our understanding of sexual violence by encouraging discussions among friends and family about harassment, assault and abuse. Once the public gains a basic understanding of harassment, assault and abuse, a community-level prevention plan can be initiated.
Begin by involving sexual violence into conversations about community change. Discuss ways to keep community members safe from violence at school, home, work and during local events. Contact local legislators to voice support for sexual violence survivors and advocate for their support on a constituent level.
In this way, our community can lift the voices of survivors and work together until our community is free of sexual violence.
Freedom House provides education and presentations on sexual violence to raise awareness for local agencies, organizations, churches, businesses, classes and groups. Anyone in our community is encouraged to contact us for more information. We are here to help.
Kayla Major, sexual violence counselor for Freedom House