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!