Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Actions

It's Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and you might be thinking "Duh, I'm aware of sexual assault, but what do I do about it?" So I'm attempting to offer ideas of what you can do this month. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and please contribute to it: add something in the comments or e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Donate or volunteer
There are all kinds of organizations across the country (and world, for that matter) that deal with sexual assault and its aftermath. Consider donating to them, via money or goods or your time. Take some shifts working a hotline, find out what the women's shelter near you is in need of and supply them with it (could be as simple as a couple boxes of tampons or pads), or if you can, make a financial contribution to an organization you trust.

Attend an event or participate in a project
Take Back the Night is one of the most common events during this month, but there are plenty of others. Check local media outlets and their calendar listings to see what's being planned in your area -- I know around my city there are educational seminars being held by local police departments, along with women's self-defense classes and a couple lectures on college campuses (in addition to a Take Back the Night event). There are national projects as well. Stop Street Harassment has a good list to check out, and they point out you can organize an event yourself if there's not one around you.

Write letters to your representatives and/or media
This can be members of Congress, your state legislature, or even city council. And really, it can be on anything. Like ratifying CEDAW, for example. Or the Equal Rights Amendment. (If you don't know how this relates to sexual assault, just ask!) You could just let them know that you hope they're doing everything they can to prevent sexual assault, just to bring it into their minds. Or, say your local newspaper or news station writes or reports about sexual assault victims in a questionable manner (victim blaming, rape apology, etc). Let them know! Tell them it's unacceptable, and tell them how it should be reported.

Speak out
If you have the means and time, spread the word about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. ("Awareness" is right in the name of the month!) Post about it on your social media sites and blogs. Hand out fliers. Let people know about the statistics. Explain what it is to blame victims, and how damaging that is to our society and how it invades our justice system. If you are a victim and are comfortable doing so, share your story. It's cliche, but putting a face to a problem and personalizing can help someone else understand it. "One in six" means nothing to a lot of people. If you are that one in six, however, that's something tangible that people can grasp. Also: speak out in your social circle, if you can. By that I mean, if someone makes a crude rape joke, tell them it's not funny, and why. If someone is victim blaming, let them know.

Offer support
If someone you know is a victim, reach out to them. Support them, and be there for them, however they need you to be. If they are reporting the assault, offer to go with them to the police station or hospital or, if it gets that far, court. Be their advocate. If they don't want to talk about it, that's okay too. Just hang out, or give them a phone call, or whatever helps make them comfortable.

Again, this isn't a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will give you some ideas. This might go without saying, but many of these actions can apply to National Child Abuse Awareness Month (also this month), with a couple tweaks. And! Here's another not comprehensive list, of additional resources:
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1 comment:

Steph said...

Great post! An action people can take daily this month to support survivors of sexual assault is to vote for Porchlight Counseling Services at the Pepsi Refresh Project website. It takes only a minute! Porchlight is competing to win a 25K grant and all of the money will go towards providing survivors of sexual assault with counseling. You can vote EVERYDAY during the month of April!



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