As a victim of sexual assault myself, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) has always had a important place in my heart. Now that I’m a mother, it holds an even bigger place in my heart. The National Sexual Violence Research Center (NSVRC) reports, “One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.” With statistics like this, how could I not want to raise awareness to this issue?
I was sexually assaulted 3 days after my 15th birthday, so I’m that one in four. The experience stripped me of my dignity, my sense of security, and my faith in humanity. I’ve been through the hells of trying to navigate the typical angsty teen issues alongside the issues that stem from being robbed of your innocence. I’ve walked through the hallways at school completely sleep deprived from the nightmares of what happened the night of the assault. I’m familiar with the confusing, searing pain of confiding in a close friend about the assault, only to be told I’m a ” whore” and that I “wanted it”. I’ve spent many nights furiously trying to scrub away how disgusting I felt because of the assault. I know what it’s like to trying regain a sense of normalcy after such a traumatic event. That why I vowed to raise awareness to this issue so that hopefully less people will have to go through what I went through.
When I first found out I was pregnant nearly 2 years ago, I knew I had to push awareness even harder than before. I don’t want my daughter or other future children to ever have to suffer the way I did. I don’t want them to know the physical and emotional pains of sexual assault. I don’t want anyone’s children to feel that pain. That’s why I do what I can to help prevent sexual assault and to end rape culture.
Every April, I change my Facebook banner and Twitter banner on my personal accounts to ones provided by NSVRC (clink the link to download your own!) I know this may seem like nothing, but the banners do provide meaningful messages. Usually at some point during the month of April, I like to share a infographic or video regarding sexual assault statistics. I really like to make a point of not only bringing light to the statistics on female sexual assault victims, but also male sexual assault victims. Sexual assault does not only affect woman and men deserve just as much awareness as woman do. Every year, I also donate $50 to Standing Together Against Rape (STAR). STAR is an Alaskan nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, education, and advocacy services to sexual assault victims and the community. Throughout the year, I make sure to continue spreading awareness
of sexual assault statistics and raise my daughter (and future children) to understand consent and autonomy. It is so important to teach our children from the beginning about consent and autonomy. They need to know that they have ultimate control over their body, they get to set their own boundaries over their body, and that they need to respect others boundaries. I plan on writing a whole article about this is in the near future because it deserves its own spotlight. And maybe one day, when I’m braver, I’ll share my own personal story of my sexual assault with the world. Maybe I’ll call out my abuser. But for now, I just want to open eyes to how relevant this issue is to every single person; raise my daughter to understand consent and autonomy; and to help victims of sexual assault.
I urge you to do what you can to help prevent this prevalent issue. Spread awareness, donate to organizations that help sexual assault victims, volunteer for a community rape crisis center, educate yourself on rape culture. No contribution is too small.
If you or someone you care about has been affected by sexual assault, you can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE). You can also visit online.rainn.org to receive support through their confidential online chat.