By Joanna Flanagan
This year’s SAAM theme, “Embrace Your Voice,” aims to inform individuals on how they can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens. Over the last few months, we have seen thousands of people use their voice to speak out about their personal experiences with sexual violence, many for the first time. The question now is, how can we all use our voices to create change?
The #MeToo movement has been a big step in opening people’s eyes to the reality that sexual violence is widespread in our culture. According to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, nearly 1 in 5 Connecticut residents have experienced a sexual assault in their lifetime. Twenty-six percent of Connecticut women and 10% of Connecticut men are sexual assault survivors. It is important to embrace your voice to show your support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children.
Here are a few ways you can use your voice to raise awareness this month:
- Participate in the National SAAM Day of Action on Tuesday, April 3rd. Wear teal and post on social media about sexual assault awareness. Visit National Sexual Violence Resource Center's page to sign up for a social media thunderclap that will share information with all of your social media followers!
- Join the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence for a SAAM Kick-Off Rally and Lobby Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, April 4th as we rally to support survivors of sexual violence on the North Steps of the Capitol from 12pm-2pm. Visit their webpage for more information.
- Start conversations about consent and boundaries with the young people in your life. Instead of telling your child to give a relative a kiss, pose it as a question instead. Ask, “Do you want to give auntie a kiss?” and respect their answer. This communicates to children that they can make decisions about their bodies and set boundaries for themselves.
- Educate yourself and others about the realities of sexual violence. Websites like nsvrc.org, rainn.org, and endsexualviolencect.org are a great place to start to learn more about sexual violence in our culture. If you learn something new, share it with a friend and start a conversation.
- Bring a training to your workplace, school, organization, or group. Our Prevention Educator provides trainings on topics such as sexual violence in our culture, sexual harassment, and bystander intervention. Click here for more information.
For more information about sexual violence and to learn how you can get involved this Sexual Assault Awareness Month, visit nsvrc.org/saam. You can also follow on social media using the hashtag #SAAM.
We know that one month isn’t enough to solve the serious and widespread issue of sexual violence. However, the attention April generates is an opportunity to energize and expand prevention efforts throughout the year. By promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies, and healthy relationships, we can create safe and equitable communities where every person is treated with respect. Let’s all embrace our voices and work towards a world where nobody has to say #MeToo.