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Take Action During SAAM
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, otherwise known as SAAM. During this month, people across the United States raised awareness about sexual violence, how to prevent it, and how to support those who are affected by it. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center chooses a campaign theme each year as a guideline for discussions and activities to focus on. This year’s focus is on asking for consent.
Your Voice. Our Future. Prevent Sexual Violence Your voice has power. Listen Believe Support.
What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence is any sexual contact or behavior that happens without your consent. Other names used for sexual violence – rape, sexual abuse and sexual assault.
Sexual violence is about power and control not sex or love and includes rape, sexual child abuse, incest, fondling, attempted rape, human trafficking, sexual harassment, or any other type of unwanted sexual contact.
- In most sexual assault cases, physical force is not used.
- Most victims will not display outward, visible injuries.
Signs of sexual assault:
- Unwanted touching.
- Rape: actual or attempted unwanted vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by an object or body part.
- Forcing or manipulating you into doing unwanted, painful or degrading acts during intercourse.
- Taking advantage of you while you’re drunk or otherwise not likely to give consent.
- Denying you contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Taking any kind of sexual pictures or film of you without your consent.
- Forcing you to perform sexual acts on film or in person for money.
- Threatening to break up with you if you refuse sex.
What is rape?
Rape is a crime of violence and domination in which one person forces, coerces or manipulates another person to have sex. There are many types of rape that can occur, but the most common types are:
- Date rape is forced or coerced sex within a dating relationship. Acquaintance rape is committed by someone known to the victim. Nearly two-thirds of all victims ages 18 to 29 report a prior relationship with their attacker.
- Date rape drugs or alcohol is quite commonly used on college campuses, although drugged rape is not limited to college campuses. Alcohol is the No. 1 drug used in sexual assaults, and on college campuses, alcohol is a factor in 90 percent of rapes.
- Statutory rape is sexual intercourse between a person who is under the age of 16 and a person who is 3 or more years older, with or without consent. In Connecticut, anyone younger than 16 cannot legally consent to sex.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwelcomed or unwanted sexual behavior or pressure that embarrasses, humiliates or intimidates and individual. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal and non verbal and visual, such as staring or gestures that are suggestive or sexual.
If you are a victim, you are not alone
Sexual violence can happen to anyone, men, women and children of all ages, races, gender, sexual identity, religion and economic classes. Sexual assault victims often feel isolated or ashamed and often do not report an attack. It is never the victim’s fault.
- 90 percent of victims know the person who sexually assaulted them.
- 1 in 6 men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime; sexual assault of men is thought to be greatly unreported.
- 1 in 3 transgender and gender non-conforming people experience sexual violence.
- 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18.
- A rape or attempted rape occurs every 5 minutes in the United States.
How can you help a victim?
If someone you care about is sexually assaulted, you can do to help in the healing process and provide support your loved. The Crisis Hotline: 1 (866) 358-2265 Sexual Assault Crisis offers ways to help:
- Believe the victim/survivor unconditionally. Accept what you hear without judgment.
- Reinforce to the victim/survivor that it is not their fault. Sexual assault is NEVER the victim/survivor’s fault. It is important not to ask “why” questions, such as “Why were you in that area at that time?” that suggest that they are to blame for the assault.
- Understand that you cannot control how the victim/survivor feels or “fix” the problem. Everyone reacts differently to sexual assault and heals at his or her own pace. It is important that you not assume you know how they are feeling — almost any reaction is possible and completely normal.
- Be a good listener and be patient. Let the victim/survivor know you are there for them when they are ready to talk. When and if the victim/survivor does want to talk about the assault, do not push for information. Let them tell you what they are comfortable sharing in their own time.
- Help the victim/survivor regain a sense of control over their life. During a sexual assault, power is taken away from the victim/survivor. Support decisions and choices the victim/survivor makes without passing judgment. Try not to tell the victim/survivor what to do; instead assist by presenting options and resources for them to make the decision that is right for them.
- Respect the victim/survivor’s need for privacy. If the victim/survivor needs to be alone, respect that decision.
- Do not suggest that the victim/survivor “move on” with their life and forget about the rape. The victim/survivor needs the opportunity to work through the trauma of the assault and begin the healing process.
- Respect the victim/survivor’s right to decide whether or not to report the assault to the police.
- Remember to take care of yourself and seek support if you need it. You will be better able to support the victim/survivor.