April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). All over the world, organizations, activists, and survivors are raising awareness about sexual violence.
In the US, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience sexual assault. We believe everyone deserves to live a safe, violence-free life. Here are 3 ways you can support survivors during Sexual Assault Awareness Month:
#1 Believe survivors
Disclosing a sexual assault is often a very difficult thing to do. It takes great courage to share such a traumatizing experience, particularly when many survivors fear rejection or judgement from others.
When someone discloses a sexual assault to you, believe that person. Empathize and acknowledge how brave they were for telling you. This will show you are a safe person to talk to and will help create a safer, more accepting environment for survivors.
#2 Use your voice
When you hear comments that blame victims, speak up so others know you do not agree. Whether you are showing your support for a survivor or helping someone better understand sexual violence, your voice is a powerful tool for change.
#3 See something, do something
Each of us has the ability to look out for each other’s safety. From ensuring a friend gets home safely from a party to removing a person from a potentially dangerous situation, there are many ways we can intervene to prevent a sexual assault from happening. Here are some examples of what you can do to keep someone safe:
- Create a distraction – Interrupt the situation to allow the person at risk to get away.
- Ask directly – Ask the person at risk directly: “Are you okay? Do you need help?”
- Refer to an authority – Some situations call for someone of authority – a police officer, a bouncer at a bar, etc.- to step in. Your safety is important as well!
- Enlist others – There is strength in numbers, ask others around you for help in removing the person at risk from the situation.
Note, it is always important to ensure it is safe to intervene! Never put yourself or others in danger!
For the past 30 years, we have worked with hundreds of survivors of sexual assault.This SAAM, we pledge to use our voices and our actions to support survivors. Together, we can change mindsets to change outcomes.
To learn more about our programs that support survivors, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org