April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month! During this month it is important for us to take time to educate ourselves and our community on sexual violence, and the ways that we can support survivors.
This article will be covering the prevalence of sexual violence, vulnerable populations and the best way to support survivors.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault feel free to call our 24/7 hotline for free crisis services: 757-236-5260
What is Sexual Violence and How Common is it?
Sexual violence is an umbrella term that refers to the conduct of a sexual nature which is non-consensual, and is accomplished through: threat, coercion, exploitation, deceit, force, physical or mental incapacitation, and/or power of authority.
Sexual Violence is one of the most prevalent forms of violence in our communities. Every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted (RAINN). Anyone can be a survivor of sexual violence, and there is nothing that survivors do to cause sexual violence.
Sexual Violence, similar to other forms of violence, is a tool that is used by perpetrators to gain power and control, and is sadly still prevalent today. Those who are part of a vulnerable population are at a higher risk of facing sexual violence as a result of socioeconomic factors.
Vulnerable populations include, but are not limited to:
LGBTQ Physically or Mentally Disabled
Children & Adolescents
Immigrants & Refugees
Undocumented & Migrant Workers
Racial, Ethnic, & Religious Minorities
Inmates & Parolees.
Vulnerable populations face sexual violence at a higher rate for numerous reasons. Some of those are cognitive or physical impairments, relying on others to help support/care for them, cultural or language barriers, biases/discrimination towards that group, being “new” to a culture, location, organization, and others.
It is important for us to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to end sexual violence. Sexual violence is supported by numerous societal structures and ideas in our society. As part of any anti-violence work, we have to come together as a community to end these structures that contribute to sexual violence.
Most recently, The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors held our largest fundraiser of the year where community members came to show support for survivors. If you want to get involved with the work The Center does, click here.
What You Can Do to Support Survivors Of Sexual Violence
At The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors, we believe that if our community comes together we can end sexual violence. Below are some of the ways that you can support the survivors in your community, and join us in our mission.
Support The Survivors in Your Community
One of the most important things that community members can do is support the survivors who confide in them. Sexual assault is extremely common, so it is likely that you personally know someone who is a survivor. When supporting survivors it is important to-
Oftentimes, survivors of sexual assault are not believed or they are blamed for the assault. One of the most important things to do for a survivor is to show and tell them that you believe them.
Let Survivors Create Their Own Healing Journey
You might not always agree with what a survivor decides to do. It is important during those times to remember that we can provide survivors options, but it is important to let them create their own healing journey.
It is important to educate yourself on the myths around sexual assault, the impact of sexual assault, and, most importantly, the resources in your area. This way you can use that knowledge to support the survivors you care for.
Join Us in Our Advocacy
At The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors, we need our community members help to provide free services to the survivors in our community. Below are three different ways you can support The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors during this Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
We are always looking for more advocates to join our team. If you are passionate about supporting survivors of sexual assault we would love to have you. Our volunteers support us by answering our 24/7 hotline, and doing community outreach. If you are interested in joining our team click here to learn more.
Spread the Word
One of the easiest ways to support survivors of sexual assault is to spread the word about our services! We provide FREE crisis services to survivors of sexual assault (both children and adults), their family members, friends, and dating partners. These free services include counseling, support groups, victim advocacy, a 24/7 crisis hotline, and advocate training. We believe that if our community comes together, we can end sexual violence.
Sharing our website on social media, and even sharing this information with friends, families, and coworkers will help our services reach the survivors who need them.
The demand for sexual assault crisis services always rises during states of emergency, and COVID-19 is no exception. During this pandemic, there has been a surge of survivors who need assistance throughout the country. In addition, a peer-reviewed study found that, “financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic has put more than 1 in 3 U.S. nonprofits in danger of closing within the next two years.” As the only rape crisis center on the peninsula, we cannot close our doors to the survivors who need us. We need our community to support us so we can continue to provide services.