Every 107 seconds, a person in America is sexually assaulted. Despite that staggering statistic, only 68% of attacks are reported, and 98% of rapists will never go to prison for their crimes.
This has got to change. And that change is on us.
During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Good Millennial will be focusing on various topics our readers can implement into their daily lives to help end sexual assault. So here are 10 ways you can take an active role in ending sexual assault today.
1. Know the facts – There a lot of myths out there about rape, assault, and sexual violence. Knowing the truth will not only help you see situations more clearly, but it will also stop the spread of lies and keep people safe. For instance, did you know 2/3 of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim? It’s not always a random street assailant like on SVU. For more reliable and honest facts on sexual assault, visit RAINN or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
2. Buck stereotypes – Homophobia, sexism, and other beliefs on rigid sexual stereotypes have a direct correlation with sexual violence. Boys can wear pink, women can bring home the bacon – encourage these thoughts in yourself, others, and children. By letting go of these tired and dangerous trends, we not only create a freer world, but a safer one as well.
3. Take care of yourself – You can never completely protect yourself from anything life may throw at you, but making good choices and removing yourself from dangerous situations is an easy way to avoid a bad encounter. Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. When going out, go with a group, avoid isolating areas, and always have your cell phone charged and money for a safe way home. Keep your privacy online, as well, and be careful of posting personal information (where you live, history, family info, photos). And don’t forget to protect yourself emotionally and mentally, as well. Strive for self confidence, body peace, and remember how much you are valued. Be strong enough to say no — protecting yourself is always your first responsibility.
4. Take care of each other – As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers, so stick together and protect your friends and others, too. If you’re going out, keep track of each other and make sure you know where your friends are. Get them safe rides home and don’t ignore danger signs. If you see someone potentially at risk, ask if they need help and act — or, if the situation seems dangerous, call 911 or enlist help. Protecting our friends and strangers is integral to preventing attacks.
5. Respect. Period. – Abuse and attacks occur when people don’t fundamentally respect each other, so actively choose respect at all times. It doesn’t matter who a person sleeps with, how a person dresses, how much money they make, who they voted for, or how they behave — all people deserve respect and basic rights to safety, free choice, and happiness. When you choose respect, you are helping stop the cycle of prejudice and abuse.
6. Promote healthy sexuality – When someone feels good in their own skin and with their own body, they can make good, honest, and healthy choices. Healthy sexuality also lets people engage in consensual, safe, and pleasurable relationships or experience sexual feelings without guilt, regret, or exploitation. Discussing sexuality reduces its “taboo” nature and supports victims who may feel ashamed or stifled. Healthy sexuality supports prevention because it reinforces safe and positive behaviors, rather than unhealthy expressions of sexuality like sexual assault.
7. Make jokes about something else – There are so many hilarious things in the world. Dogs on skateboards, Louis C.K., did we mention dogs on skateboards? Rape isn’t funny. And making jokes that degrade or hurt other people or experiences is not only dangerous, but it’s also cheap and lame. Don’t do it, and don’t let other people do it, either. It’s hurtful, dangerous, and straight up stupid.
8. Remember sexual assault doesn’t only happen at college – Campus assault is a serious problem, one that shouldn’t be forgotten or taken lightly. But avoiding frat parties isn’t a guaranteed pass from sexual violence. The average age of perpetrators is 31, and 22% of convicted rapists are married. Always be aware of your surroundings and protect yourself, no matter your age.
9. Trust survivors – Survivors need our support. If someone you know has been assaulted, it may be difficult to know how to deal with it. The bottom line is: leave the why and how questions to doctors or the police — your job is to believe in and love this person. For a great, detailed how-to list, click here.
10. Speak out – The stigma around sexual violence is full of shame, controversy, and outright lies. Choose to take an active role in combatting sexual assault by keeping the topic honest and alive. Talk to friends, talk to classmates, talk to family members. And then talk to local politicians, school boards, and college administrators. Don’t be afraid of taking a stand. The more discussions we have, the more action we’ll see. For more ways to to do this, click here.