Do you care about ending sexual assault and helping survivors? I know many of you do because my 2010 post listing 10 ideas for action has been well viewed! Well, I care, too and fortunately for us there are tons of resources, activities, and initiatives this month (and most are applicable beyond the month) that make it really easy for us to do something.
Before I give you 10 of those resources and initiatives (most of them are new for 2011), here is a powerful excerpt from President Obama’s proclamation for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month 2011:
“Despite reforms to our legal system, sexual violence remains pervasive and largely misunderstood. Nearly one in six American women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some point in her life, and for some groups, rates of sexual violence are even higher. Almost one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women will be sexually assaulted. Young women ages 16 to 24 are at greatest risk, and an alarming number of young women are sexually assaulted while in college. Too many men and boys are also affected. With each new victim and each person still suffering from an attack, we are called with renewed purpose to respond to and rid our Nation of all forms of sexual violence…
Each victim of sexual assault represents a sister or a daughter, a nephew or a friend. We must break the silence so no victim anguishes without resources or aid in their time of greatest need.”
So what can we do about it?
1. Believe/help survivors. I loved a tweet earlier this week from Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER). At minimum, they noted, believe survivors when they tell you. I’ll add, visit the website of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network to find information to help you help the survivor. And to find information to help yourself.
2. Find help. If you are a survivor who isn’t sure where to turn to or how to get help, I highly recommend visiting the RAINN website. I volunteered with them for 2.5 years and applaud their work. You can find information about a phone or online hotline and information about recovery.
- Are you in the military? RAINN has a new helpline called Safe Helpline specifically for survivors in the military.
- Are you male? Visit the website 1 in 6 for resources specifically for you.
3. Play BINGO. The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs developed a new thought and conversation provoking game of Bingo! They filled each square with ways in which participants can be part of the solution to end sexual violence.
- The Clothesline Project, an initiative to bear witness to violence against women. Women affected by violence decorate a shirt and hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of men’s violence against women.
- V-Day event offers several performance and film screening options for groups to implement in their community in February, March, and April. The purpose of these events is to raise awareness about violence against women and girls as well as raise money for local beneficiaries that are working to end violence. There is no theater or producing experience necessary. Visit the V-Day website to learn how to organize a V-Day event.
- Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS) is an award winning multimedia performance you can bring to your community that entertains as well as educates the audience about sexual assault prevention. Featuring the music of Nina Simone,Maxwell, and Sade, SOARS tells one woman’s story about how she reclaimed her body, sexuality, and self-esteem after being sexually assaulted in college. SOARS is a cutting-edge theatrical experience that stars a diverse cast of women, combining photographs, dance, spoken-word poetry and music as a way to educate about healing from sexual violence.
- By wearing a white ribbon, White Ribbon Campaign members make a personal pledge to “never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.” You can order materials to help challenge the community to speak out on the issue, learn about sexual violence, and raise public awareness.
5. Wear jeans. Make a social statement by wearing jeans on a designated day in April (this year it is April 27) through Denim Day in LA & USA as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Order their Denim Day Action Kit and raise awareness at your workplace, neighborhood, or community. Encourage each person who participates to donate one dollar to Denim Day to fund prevention programming. (I just ordered my kit.)
6. Make a pledge. This month, Students Active for Ending Rape encourages college students, alumni, parents, faculty, and administrators to transform their awareness into activism by pledging concrete action toward ending college sexual assault.
7. Tweet or Write Facebook Posts. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides a variety of resources each year for Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month, including free reports and manuals and campaign materials. This year, they’ve created social networkers with 30 suggested tweets/posts to publish, one per day in April. (I just tweeted the suggestion for April 1.)
8. March. Organize or participate in a Take Back the Night March in your community or on campus and make a statement that women have the right to be in public and to go about their lives without the risk of sexual violence. Order a kit with resources for the event.
9. Support consent. One fun way to work to prevent sexual assault is to talk about and emphasize consent in all sexual activities. Here are two amazing initiatives you can bring to your campus or community to do that:
- The Consensual Project is an interactive, sex-positive, fun workshop during which participants can learn why consensual hooking up is hotter hooking up. College students are an ideal audience for this workshop.
- The Line is a film that explores the intersection of sexual identity, power, and violence. How do we negotiate our boundaries as sexually liberated women? How much are we desensitized to sexual violence? Through conversations with football players, educators, survivors of violence, prostitutes, and attorneys, this personal film explores the “grey area” and the elusive line of consent. This April, 16 participating Hollaback! chapters will show The Line and host community events, screenings and parties in cities around the globe.
10. Do something about campus sexual assault. The rates of campus sexual assault are quite high, yet very rarely are there adequate prevention programs or proper channels for handling perpetrators. AAUW and SAFER created a Program in a Box toolkit with ideas for concrete action that can lead to concrete change, tailored for audiences of students, faculty, alumni, and parents of students. Download the free toolkit and find out what you can do to make campuses safer for all.