April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month(SAMM), which is a month designated to help raise awareness and educate about rape and sexual assault awareness.
This month’s campaign theme is “embrace your voice.” According to the Embrace Your Voice Sheet on the SAAM website, this focuses on “how you talk about sexual violence,” because “the things you say every day send a message about your beliefs and values.”
According to SAAM’s page on Wikipedia, some of the goals of this year’s campaign include:stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children. The NSVRC website contains valuable resources to do exactly that.
The truth of the matter is, we need these resources more than ever before. Sexual assault is something that needs to be brought to everyone’s attention — whether you are a man or a woman. It’s become more discussed — especially with the #MeToo movement, and the stands made at Hollywood award shows, but it does bring forth the attention that there’s a major sexual assault problem here.
Now, what is sexual assault? According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), some forms of sexual assault include: attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body, or penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape. Furthermore, there’s something else I wish to point out — force is not always physical. RAINN says “perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.”
And, it’s a lot more common than you think: according to the statistics page on RAINN, nearly one in six women are victims of sexual assault. But, what is even more startling is that RAINN reports that every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. This totals 321,500 victims of sexual assault with victims that are 12 years older.
Something needs to be done about this.
It starts with trying to nipping the problem in the bud. It starts with consent. It starts with education. It starts living with the fact that no in fact means no.
The impact of sexual assault is something that can never be expressed in words. Once the assault happens, you become silent and lose your voice. It becomes difficult, nearly impossible, to regain it back.
Therefore, we must do all that we can to make sure this stops here.
So, what can we do?
For starters, we can learn how to say no and say it with force and power — and ensure that our partner respects that power two little word.
Furthermore, we also can change how we perceive rape victims, because they did nothing to deserve this. They didn’t ask to be raped — no matter what they are wearing or even if they are leading you on. Everyone has the power to say no. You need to listen to it.
Finally, we also need to learn to believe them — and do something about it. Many victims of sexual assault and rape often don’t report it simply because they don’t think that it’s a problem or worth reporting. This needs to stop. We need to prevent that from happening again.
Throughout this month, I’ll be posting about sexual assault issues on my blog and personal Facebook page. I encourage you to stay tuned, and share, to help create awareness and conversation, because those are the first steps in making this problem so yesterday.
Furthermore, if you can, I encourage you to take part in this as well. NSVRC has an awesome social media campaign that I encourage you to take part of, if you can.