Apr 122011

This month is a lot of months and one of those happens to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

You know a sexual assault survivor, even if you don’t think you don’t. You probably know many. I am a sexual assault survivor.

Here are some facts that you may or may not know:

*Most (although not sexual assaults) happen by people known to the survivor. Stranger assault and acquaintance assault are BOTH sexual assault. Neither is better/worse than the other; let’s not create a hierarchy of non-consent.

*EVERYONE can be a victim/survivor of sexual assault. This includes people under 18, people over 30, people between 18 and 30 men, women, gender queer folk, trans folk, straight folk, queer folk, single people, people in relationships, kinky people, vanilla people, poly people, monogamous people, sex workers, college graduates, doctors, high school drop outs, attorneys, judges, police, servers, sex educators, etc. NO one is protected from sexual assault because of their identity.

*The majority of sexual assaults go unreported.

*15 out of 16 perps will never see a single day of jail or prison.

*Some identify as survivors, others as victims. Both are 100% valid.

*Not everyone wants to talk about their stories.

*Some absolutely do and need a listening ear.

*Sexual Assault can affect the survivors for the rest of their lives.

*Sexual Assault survivors can absolutely have happy, healthy relationships.

*Therapy can be incredibly important and helpful for survivors.

*No means no. Lack of no does not mean yes. Yes means yes — active consent is important!

*When there is a power play (like parent/child, professor/current student), that takes away the ability for most to consent. This is often called sexual coercion (and incest in the first case).

*When people react angrily to hearing of a friend/partner/loved one’s sexual assault, it can often trigger the survivor. Listen, ask them what THEY would like to do/would like YOU to do, don’t be angry and don’t tell them what they “have” to do. Give them back the power.

*People in relationships can be sexually assaulted by their current/former partners.

*People can be sexually assault by people they have had sex with before.

If you or someone you know has been assaulted, there are many resources. College campuses tend to have hotlines and/or sexual assault response coordinators. You can contact RAINN (the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network). If you need LGBTQ resources, here are some to get you started. Many states have anti violence programs (in Colorado, it is CAVP). Many doctors and social workers have awesome resources as well. If you cannot find any near you/the person you’re helping, please contact me and I will help you.

Together, we can work together to both support survivors, and to change our culture to make it a safer place for EVERYONE.