April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month — a time for Americans to wear teal ribbons, participate in events (such as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes), and talk about sexual violence, all in an effort to raise awareness and end this epidemic. As an organization, we are proud to take part in Sexual Assault Awareness Month, lending our voice to the chorus of those saying #NOMORE.
Over the months, the national spotlight has shone on the issue of sexual violence. The conversation about sexual assault and harassment seems to be different now than it has been in the past, with abusers being held accountable, and many victims of sexual violence choosing to speak up about their experience. Yet despite this bigger narrative around sexual assault and harassment, there are still many misconceptions about sexual violence. One of the biggest fallacies is that sexual assault is just about rape.
Sexual assault is not an isolated act; it is on a continuum with and related to other activities. These activities may be legal or illegal, and abusers may act out part or the whole continuum of sexual aggression. Most women have experienced at least one act that falls within the continuum of sexual aggression. It includes:
As noted above, not all of these actions are against the law. Yet all share a common thread: lack of respect for the victim, and an attempt by the abuser to gain power and control over her or him.
If we want to truly raise awareness about sexual assault, we must be willing to talk about the full range of behaviors — the entire continuum — of sexual aggression. By addressing the lower level actions, like suggestive looks or sexist comments, we can help to create a community where sexual aggression and violence of ALL forms are not tolerated.
At Blackburn Center, we are committed to helping victims of sexual violence through a 24 hour hotline (1-888-832-2272 or 724-836-1122), counseling and therapy, legal and medical accompaniment, support groups, and an emergency shelter for victims of intimate partner violence. We are also dedicated to raising awareness and educating the community so that we can work to end this type of violence in Westmoreland County and beyond. You can get involved by registering for our annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, a great, family-friendly walk that will take place on April 21, 2018 at Offutt Field in downtown Greensburg. Click to register and to learn more!
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