Declare yourself as an ally for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
Here are some incredibly easy ways to do that:
- Use empowering language. People who have been harassed, abused, stalked, and/or assaulted are not just victims of a crime. They are survivors because they lived through it. The term survivor shows respect for their strength and their journey of recovery.
- Educate yourself about the statistics. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetimes. 85% of survivors know their attacker. Only 33% of rapes are reported. While anyone can be assaulted, some more vulnerable groups are at a higher risk, statistically. These groups include people with disabilities, the homeless, senior adults, children, and the GLBT community.
- Be sensitive to humor/language that encourages or excuses sexual violence. The words “rape” and “molestation” get thrown around a lot in some inappropriate contexts –ex: “I just got raped on my tax refund this year.” Comedians and adult cartoons often make jokes at the expense of marginalized groups. This is not funny or edgy or subversive. It’s gross. I hear this a lot:“It’s just a joke. Don’t be so sensitive.” These comments trivialize the genuine pain that women and men who are assaulted experience.
- Go public. Not all of us speak in front of large groups or command a great deal of attention. But we all have public outlets. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email, even our blogs…Some people like to put bumper stickers on their car. Most of us wear jewelry or t-shirts. Find a way, big or small, to let your public know where you stand on sexual violence.