Hello everyone! For those who know and for those who are unaware, the month of April is known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or (SAAM). Today’s blog will talk about the severeness of sexual assault and educate people on how to prevent sexual violence!
As a community, our goal during Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault, share information about available resources, and foster a greater understanding of consent. Now here we have it ladies and gentlemen, the biggest issue of all: Consent, something that every human being has the right to give and the duty to establish. Crimes like these don’t seek gender, although 82% of those under 18 who experience sexual assault are girls. Sexual assault and harassment are persistent forms of gender-based violence that are rooted in gender inequality. In fact, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, “sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Its impact goes beyond survivors, dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault.”
Did you know that 1 in 3 Canadians understand what it means to give consent in a sexual situation? Only one party is responsible for sexually assaulting or harassing another person: the perpetrator. Holding a survivor accountable for the violence she experiences is called victim-blaming and it is not only unfair but also dangerous. Victim-blaming leads many women (in this case) to believe abuse is their fault and makes them less likely to come forward and report sexual offenses. Did you know that there is a myth saying that sexual assault is usually committed by strangers, but in 80% of cases, the survivor knows the offender?
In our society, gender inequality is present in many areas, including media, religion, politics, cultural norms, and mostly the workplace. It is a known fact that when a woman or a man feels uncomfortable in their workplace, 90% of the time they will let it go because they don’t know who to talk to. Now, when it starts happening more frequently and gets worse, they want to tell someone but feel that it will cause an unnecessary issue and in hopes that it will just go away, let it go once again. This is what gives the abuser/ harasser the idea that they are in control and that there are no consequences for their actions. If we can’t stop these abusers right this moment, let’s make a safer environment for people to come forward and report these horrible offenses! Then maybe, we can take a strong step towards ending these crimes and punishing those who think that they are free to do whatever the hell they want.
As a girl, there have been many situations where I have felt very uncomfortable and unsafe. Walking down the street, going to the mall with friends, or even just sitting alone in a park minding my own business are just a few examples of where I have felt that the need to be aware of my surroundings at all times and be prepared to defend myself. I have never had a direct encounter with someone where I have felt threatened but that’s not the case for some people out there. Sexual assault can be physical (unwanted touching), verbal (catcalling, making comments in public), and also virtual (having to block online harassment). Some ways we can prevent sexual violence in all areas is to recognize and challenge victim-blaming and let survivors and victims know that sexual assault is not their fault. We need to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions or else we reinforce the notion that abuse and assault are acceptable which allows abusers to defend and continue to do so.
You never know how comfortable someone is in a situation so always make sure to establish consent both physically and first and foremost, verbally! “Are you ok with this,” or “Do you feel safe and comfortable,” are just examples of asking for consent, and to actually STOP when someone says no is firmly establishing it. Let’s help our society understand that, NO will always mean NO!