Stepping Up for Sexual Violence Awareness & Prevention

TW/CW: This article discusses topics of sexual assault and sexual violence. 

Sexual assault is a difficult topic to discuss, but an unfortunate reality for many people around the world. In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, I want to share a wide range of information and resources to honor survivors, raise awareness, and educate our communities on how to prevent sexual assault. 

Educating Ourselves about Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact that a person is coerced or forced to participate in against their will. While many people understand that sexual assault is an issue, most also don’t know what exactly qualifies as sexual assault, how to recognize it, how to be more supportive of survivors, and how to become more involved and help raise awareness. 

Sexual assault affects everyone. One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and for men, it is 3%. Research also shows that about 60,000 children are victims of substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.

It is important to note that many victims of sexual assault experience pain and trauma beyond the event itself. Those who experience sexual assault are more likely to experience posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol addictions, problems with intimate relationships, and difficulty at work and/or school. 

To educate yourself further, you can check out these leading organizations:

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

  • The NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center) creates and shares resources to help prevent and respond to sexual violence in the United States and around the globe.

Volunteer

One of the many ways to get involved in the fight to raise awareness and prevent sexual violence is by engaging and volunteering in your local community. You can volunteer at a crisis center, participate in fundraising events, advocate for survivors, help raise and improve safety measures on college campuses, or host your own educational or advocacy event.

Learn How to Help Sexual Assault Survivors

It can be difficult to know how to support a survivor of sexual violence, but it starts with simple steps. Below are few tips to help you if you are unsure of what to do:

  • Be compassionate. Most survivors just want to be heard and able to voice what has happened to them.

  • Be patient. Most survivors aren’t ready to seek support or to take action, even if they do not know how.

  • Offer your support. The presence and support of a trusted loved one can make a significant difference.

Donate

There are a large number of nonprofit organizations against sexual violence that accept monetary donations. In addition to RAINN and NSVRC, there are other nonprofit organizations working to prevent sexual violence and provide support, such as:

  • 1 in 6: an organization that helps men who have experienced sexual abuse.

  • NAESV (National Alliance to End Sexual Violence): an organization that helps educate the policy community about federal laws and legislation that prevent and work toward ending the cycle of sexual violence in the United States.

----

There are a wide number of support and prevention resources available on a local level as well. If you are unsure of what projects are near you, the NSVRC provides an online directory of local organizations and projects working to eliminate sexual violence. 

I also would like to share some additional resources to check out for more information on understanding what consent looks like, your role in preventing sexual assault, and the steps you can take to prevent sexual violence.

No matter who you are — you have the right to feel safe. I feel proud to be writing and sharing this incredible article/resources of information. 

I hope you will join us (@HerCampusDePaul) on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month by creating a positive change for those who are suffering, those who have survived, and for those who we hope never have to experience the trauma of sexual assault.