Letter: Important to raise awareness about sexual assault

To the editor:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities on how to prevent it.

Sexual assault is a major public health, human rights and social justice issue. It ranges from verbal sexual harassment to unwanted sexual contact. Every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. There is an average of 293,000 victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault each year.

The effects are wide-ranging and long-term. Its trauma affects individuals, families, friends, partners and children. It has an effect on schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and religious communities.

We know it must stop. But can one or two people do it? The answer is a resounding yes. The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence says one way to do it is simple … we need to talk about it.

The conversations we have can keep sexual violence from happening in the first place. Conversations shape those relationships and eventually impact our culture. If we have conversations about consent, healthy sexuality, gender norms and respect, our relationships and the environments in which we live, work, learn and play will be safer and more supportive, protecting us from sexual violence risk factors.

  • Let’s talk about consent. When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has communicated their desires, needs and level of comfort with different sexual interactions.
  • Let’s talk about healthy sexuality. It means being comfortable with our bodies, having respectful relationships and respecting the rights of others.
  • Talk about gender norms. Respect others. Be aware of the impact of family, cultural, media and societal messages. Interact with all genders in respectful and appropriate ways.
  • Talk about respect. Respectful relationships are based on affection, friendship, trust, good communication and equality for everyone in them.

We need everyone’s help to end sexual assault. In the words of the late Robin Williams, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Charlotte Moss LCAC

Jackson County Community Services Director

Substance Abuse Specialist