Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Dear Editor:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “Engaging New Voices,” builds on the idea that we are stronger together, and that new partners and community members are needed to expand sexual assault prevention efforts. There are many ways to embrace one’s voice, from practicing or providing consent to speaking out against stereotypes or gender biases.

We can all help the next generation foster attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality, and respect. Nearly one in five women and one in 71 men are victims of sexual assault (Black et al., 2011). We all have a role to play in preventing sexual violence in our community. Our actions, big and small, have a ripple effect on those we teach, guide, and influence. From modeling healthy behavior to addressing inappropriate conduct, everyone can make a difference. Changing beliefs which contribute to sexual violence starts with believing survivors of sexual violence when they share their stories. You can help by calling out victim-blaming comments or rape jokes if you see them online. Remind those around you that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Seemingly small actions like this make a critical impact.

We all have a unique role to play in prevention and changing the culture. When we reflect on and change how we think and talk about the issue of sexual violence and consent, we can create a culture of respect, equality, and safety. All of our voices have power. It’s time for everyone to find that voice and embrace it.

Get engaged this April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Join us in embracing your role in ending sexual assault. Learn more about how you can use your voice to change the culture at www.nsvrc.org/saam.

Nickie Ostick

Lisbon

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