What Can You Do About Sexual Violence?

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “It’s time … to get involved.” The message is that preventing sexual assault needs to be our collective  responsibility. This month’s focus will be about combating the bystander effect.  The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)coordinates this campaign.

The 2011 national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign explores common, everyday behaviors and offers individuals viable, responsible ways to intervene. This primary prevention approach helps to create environments where people are safe in their relationships, families, neighborhoods, schools, work places and communities.

This fits with my own philosophy which I shared last April:

The issue the How To Prevent Rape piece and my comments are illustrating is that the onus for preventing rape has wrongly been placed on the potential victims. (See Men Can Stop Rape for more information about a different approach).

Only by putting responsibility where it really belongs, on those who commit acts of violence and abuse, can we start to break this cycle.

That means, as a culture we need to shift the focus to holding rapists/abusers/perpetrators accountable for their actions. It means looking at the larger cultural issues that create (mostly) men who become rapists/abusers.

Stay tuned this month for more information about how you can get involved and examples of programs that mobilize communities. I’d love to hear what you are doing as well!

This entry was posted in Abuse, Psychologist, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to What Can You Do About Sexual Violence?

  1. Anne says:

    I apologize if this offends some of your readers, but there is a largely unexplored aspect of sexual violence that still remains largely invisible in our society: the issue of female perpetrated sexual assault.

    From the article:
    “One of the themes that I have noticed in speaking with people who have been sexually abused by a woman is that they have always felt so alone. The little boy or little girl all alone with their pain; all alone with their tears; all alone with their doubts, their questions, their shame, their anger. No one seems to care about his or her experiences. No one seems to want to do any public marches for them.”

  2. Anne says:

    Following up on my previous post, one of the things I believe we can do is to have the courage to explore our own unexamined assumptions about sexual violence and assault to determine if they are indeed true, or whether we have been told what to believe via groupthink.

    It’s uncomfortable to consider, but the statistics are that a very high percentage of male rapists and serial killers were abused (often sexually abused) by female caregivers. But just how many programs exists anywhere to assist a troubled youth of either gender who has, usually through their own victimization, started down that slippery path that leads them to offend against others? None that I can find.

    So, in my opinion, if we are truly serious about reducing sexual violence we need to get at the root of it and look to create programs to assist potential offenders – of any gender – BEFORE they offend.

  3. Anne says:

    One of the things I can do is to stop allowing the current prejudice and shaming of people who don’t fit into our current DV and Sexual Violence ‘molds’ silence me from telling my own story, and from raising awareness.

    The following story isn’t mine, but is close enough. I challenge anyone who thinks they know all there is to know about this subject to read the following before they take any steps to raise awareness.

    “Once my mother and I had moved and were alone she crossed the line into sexually abusing me. Just saying those words today, even after all these years still brings up a feeling a shame in me. Much of this shame is not a result of the sexual violence I endured at her hands. Much of it is because of the societal beliefs about motherhood and sexual violence in general. Of the way I was treated by various professionals, groups, and individuals over the years that supposedly were advocates for sexual assault victims. By society in general.

    Once I grew older and was able to escape my mother I eventually sought help. I found time and time again a pattern of my seeking help and being shunned, dismissed, discounted, minimized, and more often than not, just being ignored and ostracized. “

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  5. marie says:

    Its interesting that this week in Ireland, a controversy has blown up about gardai (Irish Police) caught joking about rape on tape. ( http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0406/breaking18.html and the tape in question can be heard at http://vimeo.com/21952231). There are mixed reactions to its publication, some people not understanding the big deal.. Again, it shows the attitudes underpinning outlooks in Ireland and how much has to change. Thanks for you work, I hope these ideas begin to filter through more of society. Thank you.

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  7. a survivor says:

    Good points here…

  8. a survivor says:

    I feel mixed about some of the advice, though. While I agree that it’s never the victim’s fault if she’s raped, I do feel like I could have prevented my own assault. Without question.

    So while I don’t want to advocate blaming the victim, I do wish I had kept myself safe. It would have changed my entire life.

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