This coming April marks the 19th National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While it may be hard to think about in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, it is important to remember that sexual violence is also a global health issue.
Sexual violence has become a more familiar subject in the past few years as a result of the high-profile cases and movements, but awareness and prevention doesn’t stop with the media. It means all of us learning more, supporting each other, and creating access for survivors to the supports they need to heal, grow, and thrive at their own pace.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nearly one in five women and one in 67 men have experienced sexual assault at some time in their lives, and in eight out of ten cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator. This issue affects children as well, with one in four girls and one in six boys experiencing sexual abuse before the age of 18. It often seems like an issue too big to handle—how can any one person make a difference in something so prevalent?
Even the smallest acts from a single person can make an impact, even if that impact is only for one person. That means actively listening when anyone talks to you about questionable behaviors in their relationships, at work, from a stranger or with family. It could mean participating in a community conversation focused on violence prevention and skills to keep yourself and those around you safe or referring someone in need to Turning Points Network. It could be as simple as sharing this article to show you believe and support survivors and stand against sexual assault.
No one person has to do everything, but everyone can do something. We can come together as a community to say that violence is not acceptable, and that survivors will be safe here. Change begins with us and each of us can be more aware during April, and beyond.
OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN)serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope.
For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turninqpointsnetwork.org or www.nsvrs.org/saam or find us on Facebook.
TPN Crisis and Support Line: 800-639-3130
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673