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What You Can Do to Prevent Sexual Violence
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and represents an important moment for us to reflect on how sexual violence touches our lives, and what we can do to prevent harm in our communities.
Sexual violence is an urgent public health crisis in our world and can have serious consequences on a survivor’s physical and emotional health. Approximately 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives.
At the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, we prevent sexual violence and reduce the harm it causes through advocacy, education, and supportive services. We are dedicated to advancing the dignity and fundamental human rights of survivors and strive to challenge victim-blaming and other rape culture myths that enable sexual violence to continue.
Sexual violence may seem like an issue that is too large to overcome, but each of you can harness your power and be a spark of change in your communities. This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we share five ways to end rape culture and sexual violence.
1. Listen, believe, and support survivors. Do you know someone who has faced sexual violence? Has a loved one shared a painful experience with you? At the Alliance, we envision a culture where survivors are heard. If it feels safe, share your support, empathy, and compassion with the survivor in your life. You can be a valuable ally for survivors.
2. Think critically. When hearing about sexual violence in the media, think critically about how sexuality, gender roles, and individuals are portrayed. What message is being sent? Is the survivor being blamed? Is how a survivor dressed or how much they drank being focused on? Take the opportunity to reflect on how rape cultural norms impact our perception of survivors.
3. Start conversations with young people. We value youth as powerful and valuable change makers. You can teach healthy, safe dating and intimate relationship skills to adolescents and promote healthy sexuality. Engage the young people in your life to consider what it means to embody respect, communicate, and set healthy boundaries for their bodies. Ask someone if it’s okay before receiving a hug or giving a high five!
4. Raise your voice. Share with your community the dangers of rape culture. Speak up against language or behaviors that promote sexual violence.
5. Get involved! You can support initiatives to end sexual violence. Get involved with your community-based organizations and share your dedication to preventing violence. Volunteer your time, donate, and lobby legislators to create laws that advance gender equality and help eradicate sexual violence. You can make an impact.
Contributed by: Rachel LaPointe and Charlotte Kaysen, Policy and Legal Interns for NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
You can connect with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault on social media