In the United States, April is the month dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault. This is an abuse that oftentimes goes unspoken of and unpunished. Yet the number of people impacted by sexual assault means that you likely know someone who has experienced it first hand. So how serious is it?
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) 1 out of 6 women in America and 1 out of 33 men “have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.” They also estimate that a sexual assault occurs approximately every 2 minutes. The numbers speak for themselves.
So now that we are beginning to grasp the magnitude of the problem, the next question is “but what can I do?” So glad you asked.
- Help for the Hurting
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, please seek professional help. The Sexual Assault Resources page is a good place to start or you can contact a local hospital or police department for assistance in locating help in your area.
- Do Not Blame the Victim
If someone tells you about their assault, do not ask them what they did to provoke the attack. It does not matter how the victim was dressed, if they were intoxicated, etc., nobody invites sexual assault. Listen to them and encourage them to seek professional help.
Funding for victims’ advocate programs has taken a serious hit. Local rape crisis centers typically welcome cash, gas cards and gift cards to help support their efforts. Your contribution is never to small. But perhaps you are able to tap into business funding for philanthropic use. Consider getting involved as a sponsor. Oftentimes crisis centers are hubs for training local emergency personnel in how to work with sexual assault victims for improved outcomes both in the victim’s mental health and in the criminal justice system and this type of training could use sponsorship.
Contact your local crisis center and ask about volunteer positions. Perhaps they need someone to answer phones or clean or lend a hand at an upcoming fundraising event. You don’t have to be professionally trained to help, you just have to be willing.
- Keep the Conversation Going
Talk to your friends and neighbors about getting involved in a local fundraising/awareness event. Educate yourself and talk to your family members about how to prevent sexual assault. Share this information and encourage others to do the same.
I know it might sound cliché but you really can make a difference.
Abide in His Grace,