The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States, with a goal to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Each day, people witness a continuum of behaviors that range from being respectful and safe to sexually abusive and violent.
What is Sexual Violence? Sexual violence breaks a person’s trust and feeling of safety. It occurs anytime a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. Rape is a crime. It is motivated by a need to control, humiliate, and harm. It is not motivated by sexual desire.
Who is at Risk for Sexual Violence? You are! Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, age, socio-economic status, or religion. It is estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It is a common misconception that most sexual assaults are committed by strangers. You are more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know—a friend, date, neighbor, and relative—than by a stranger in a dark alley.
How to Reduce Your Risk Trust your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, leave. Don’t mix sexual decisions with drugs and alcohol. Your ability to make smart decisions is hampered when you are high or drunk.
Avoid individuals who:
Communicate. Think about what you really want before you get into a sexual situation and communicate clearly with your partner. If you think you are getting mixed messages, ask your date what he/she wants.
Be assertive. Respect yourself enough not to do anything you don’t want to do. Your opinions matter, and NO MEANS NO!