Education, communication keys to preventing sexual violence
This week’s article is a continuation from last week’s article about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Awareness and reporting are needed to end the cycle. Again, the following information is from the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services newsletter.
Learn about these issues and talk openly about them: On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, that’s more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.
Educate yourself about domestic violence and sexual assault and start a conversation with a friend or family member today. Wearing the “no more” symbol is a great conversation starter. Talking about these issues openly will help end the shame and stigma that domestic violence and sexual assault survivors are burdened with.
Support survivors: If someone discloses that they have or are being abused let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen. Help them find local resources to support their needs and safety, and provide them with the appropriate hotline info.
The hotlines are confidential and available 24/7. Don’t judge them if they decide to stay in an abusive situation.
Speak up: Challenge yourself and others not to use language or expressions that denigrate women and girls and/or tease or harass men and boys for not being “manly” enough. Let your friends know that their comments are limiting and offensive and that they have no place on the playing field, in the classroom, at work or in our homes.
Speak up against comments that blame the victim for what has happened to them. Let your friends know that blaming the victim is inappropriate and offensive. Encourage them to consider why our society questions the victim’s behavior instead of the perpetrator’s violent and abusive behavior. Learn how all of us can get off the sidelines and help prevent violence before it happens.
Donate: Donate your time or funds to help support local domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers and violence prevention programs. Host a fundraiser at your school, church, or community center where others can learn about these issues but also give financial support non-profit programs that help victims overcome trauma.
Know the facts and start a conversation: Talking about these issues openly will help end the shame and stigma that domestic violence and sexual assault survivors are burdened with. The next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about this:
• One in three women and one in four men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
• One in three teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
• One in five women are survivors of rape.
• One in two women and one in five men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives.
• One in four women and one in six men were sexually abused before the age of 18.
Amplify the conversation: Start conversations to educate people about how domestic violence and sexual assault affect us all and help eliminate the stigma, shame and blame surrounding DV/SA.
Call Kim at (269) 273-6154 to partner with DASAS.
Rob Herbstreith is a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police Niles post. Questions or comments can be emailed to TrooperRob53@yahoo.com