If you have been feeling like we have this spring (cold, soggy, ready for more than two days in a row of sunshine) perhaps you have also welcomed the warmth of fresh cut flowers into your office. Vibrant tulips in April, especially on gray days, bring a form of clarity and reassurance that summer is on its way.
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and at Chuckanut Health Foundation we are committed to the sexual violence public health approach to reduce the affects of sexual violence in our community. We believe we can all have a role in preventing sexual violence by promoting a norm of consent and respect.
When we collectively hold attitudes, and values that consent is the norm, we can decrease the likelihood of sexual violence behavior in our community.
Recently, we came across a study that shows high awareness among U.S. Adults on what constitutes Sexual Assault. The study also finds a lower level of awareness among men and young adults.
We asked our current volunteer Samantha, a Western Washington University student, to give us a brief explanation of what she understands is sexual assault. We feel her description and her hope that others can increase their level of awareness was important to share:
“Consent is only consent if it is a verbal and sober “yes” from both sides of whoever is involved in the sexual interactions. Once I learned more about sexual assault and what consent is, I started paying more attention to my friends’ experiences, my own interactions and realized sexual assault is much more common than I had previously thought.
On college campuses around the nation only 1/6 of students involved in a sexual assault case utilize the services their campus offers. It is hard to admit that we need help. We want to convince everyone that we are strong, independent, and able to take care of ourselves. We’re in college, this is the time we are learning to live as adults and want to prove that we can do everything by ourselves. But reality is, we are only human. We all have obstacles in our life too big to overcome on our own.
Lucky for us, we have an abundance of people eager and ready to give us a boost to get over those challenges. My hope is that all students will be given the opportunity to learn more about sexual assault, begin taking it more seriously to spread awareness that sexual assault services on campus are available, safe, and easy to use.”
Educating oneself, advocating for one another and sharing experiences to reduce victim blaming can make a difference in allowing someone to feel confident to communicate their wants, ask/listen for consent and treat others with respect.
If we all come together to end sexual violence by bringing about awareness and creating a norm of consent, we can make a meaningful difference in our community.
If you are interested in attending a local event to participate in SAAM, here are a few upcoming events:
Nooksack Tribe Promotes Sexual Assault Awarness with Moccasin Mile Walk
Wednesday April 27, 2016 Deming
Walk during the Moccasin Mile Fun Walk to raise sexual assault awareness.
This event is free.
Victory Over Violence Luncheon
Friday, April 28th 11:30 – 2:30PM
A celebration of the perseverance and hope shown by survivors of abuse, the annual luncheon is held each spring in Whatcom County.
Featuring gripping testimonials, local leaders and the presentation of the prestigious Kathleen Marshall Award, the luncheon is a must attend event for anyone committed to ending domestic violence and sexual assault.
This event is free to attend but registration is required.
Our partner program Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS) provides our community with critical services and resources to work towards preventing violence in our community.