It’s Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week. This issue happens more often than most people realize – which is why bringing awareness to it is so important. Let’s talk about what sexual violence is, who is at risk, and what we can do to prevent it.
Content Warning: This blog discusses various forms of sexual violence and intimate partner abuse. If you find these topics uncomfortable or distressing, take the time to decide whether this content is right for you. If you need to talk to someone, you can reach out to me at any time.
Sexual violence is a heavy issue. Unfortunately, that means that it is also taboo – and when people aren’t willing to talk about an issue like this, it only protects the people enacting violence, and hurts victims. But together, we can change the conversation and bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence and abuse.
But first, what is sexual violence?
Sexual violence is a broad term encompassing a range of behaviors and actions. Any sexual activity which happens without consent is a form of sexual violence. This includes incidents involving coerced consent, manipulated consent, or uninformed consent.
Sexual violence doesn’t have to include other forms of physical violence – the act itself is violence, even when it isn’t necessarily perceived as such. There are many forms of sexual violence, and they don’t always appear the way we expect. When you hear the term, you most likely think of rape or sexual assault. You may think of childhood sexual assault. But there are other types of sexual violence that need even more awareness. For instance, sexual harassment (even when no physical touch is involved) is a form of sexual violence. Sending unsolicited sexual images to another person is a form of sexual violence. ‘Flashing’ and other public acts can also be forms of sexual violence, along with watching someone in a private act without their consent.
It is also important to remember that sexual violence can happen to anyone. The CDC says that more than 50% of women, and close to 1 in 3 men, will experience “sexual violence involving physical contact” at some point in their lives. And that only includes instances of physical contact.
Sexual violence doesn’t always happen at the hands of a stranger. In fact, in the majority of cases, victims of sexual violence know the perpetrator. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says that “about 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home,” and 73% of adult victims of sexual assault knew their attacker. Intimate partner sexual assault accounted for 28%. In child victims, this statistic grows to 90%.
So now that we understand what sexual violence is, what do we do about it?
The best thing that you can do to prevent sexual violence is to get informed. Sexual violence is so prevalent that, most likely, there are people in your own community (and possibly in your own circle) who are victims or perpetrators of sexual violence. Get to know the risk factors for sexual violence. Check out this guide from the CDC to learn about those risk factors, and about the ‘protective factors’ that lower a person’s risk of experiencing sexual violence. Bring in a professional to host a ‘sexual violence prevention’ workshop for your neighborhood – You can also host a workshop yourself. Use this resource from the CDC, which includes education on strategies to address sexual violence, as a guide; reach out to a local organization that addresses sexual violence for educational support.
And, of course, take the time to spread awareness. This week is National Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which means it’s the perfect time to talk to the people around you! Ask your workplace to host a workshop on sexual violence; talk to your friend group during your weekly gathering; Share important information about sexual violence on social media; reach out to a local organization that deals with sexual violence, and find out how you can get involved in the work they are doing. Your voice matters. Issues like this can be addressed if we’re willing to speak up and be a part of the change.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for help. Talk to a friend, or reach out to a professional. There are resources available. And I am always here to listen.
If you want to stay engaged with each and every vital awareness day and week throughout the year, this is for you! The 13 Month Griefhab 2024 Awareness Calendar was intentionally designed to showcase EVERY important awareness day, week, and month. The calendar features inspiring quotes, and each month’s artwork was designed by a child impacted by grief. You can get your copy of the Griefhab Awareness Calendar here!
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And I can’t close out this week’s blog without sharing some exciting news with you:
Griefhab is officially hiring! I am adding to the team, and opening up a Griefhab certification program. If you are a therapist, counselor, social worker, or work in the mental health field in any way – you can now get certified by Griefhab to become a part of our team and help us reach more people in more places!
But you don’t have to be licensed. Losing Jim taught me that my degrees meant nothing. Life experience teaches you in an entirely different way. If you’ve been through loss & now have a passion to help others – get certified and become a part of Griefhab.
And there’s more:
Already a healer in another way? Partner with Griefhab and get certified, and you’ll have a brand new client base! The incredible Shalini Breault is my sound healer, and I’m currently certifying someone in leading journal writing workshops. But if you have another healing skill, like Reiki or acupuncture, I want to talk to you!
I can’t wait to share more about this in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
And remember, you can reach out anytime: email@example.com
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