By Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center Staff Member
Two in five women and one in five men will experience a form of sexual assault in their lifetime.
Recognizing sexual violence is an important first step to preventing sexual violence is recognizing its many forms, including sexual assault and sexual harassment. Recognize that it can happen to anyone of any gender, age, race or nationality, education level, sexual orientation, economic background, or ability. When we learn more about the dynamics of abuse and its many forms, we can start to end abuse in every community.
The unfortunate reality is that, statistically, almost everyone knows someone who has been impacted by sexual violence. They may be a survivor themselves or someone they know is a survivor. It’s not always something we are comfortable acknowledging and discussing. By talking more about violence, we can support survivors, share resources and discuss ways communities can come together to prevent sexual violence.
Consent is an active agreement for a specific act or activity that is freely given and can be changed at any time. It is ongoing communication based in respect and equality, and it doesn’t have to just be for sexual situations. By learning more about consent and normalizing asking for it in everyday situations, we create environments where boundaries can be communicated and respected.
Being an active bystander means intervening when you hear comments or see behaviors that support sexual violence. Speak up if you hear a sexist joke or comment. Intervene or offer support in situations where violence may occur or has occurred. When doing so, we communicate to others that behaviors and comments that support violence or lead to violence are not ok.
Advocate for consent and boundaries to be taught in schools. Learn about legislation that supports survivors and holds perpetrators accountable and let your representatives know that you support it. Donate to your local advocacy center to support survivors and community education.