Sex and Relationships

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

SAAM in quarantine, how to support and help Victims during Covid-19

By: Valerie Gonzalez

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, usually highlighted by activities and events. Credit: National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)

“SAAM is an annual campaign to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Each year during the month of April, state, territory, tribal and community-based organizations, plan events and activities to highlight sexual violence as a public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts.”

Unfortunately for this year’s SAAM, we are locked up at home preventing the spread of Covid-19, making it difficult to achieve the purpose of SAAM. Here we will explore some tips and dates where you could show your love for victims and help stop victim blaming.

Covid-19 has affected us in many ways; suddenly we can’t do basic things like go to a park or to the supermarket. There’s no toilet paper or bottled water and you have to wait on lines to enter Costco. 

Most of us have developed anxiety and even depression because of being home and not having contact with the outside, but imagine going through this while also dealing with violence in your home or trying to heal from a traumatic experience. 

Around 50% of abusers live in the same household as kids under the age of six, and more than 23% of abusers live in the same household as a kid or a teen. (NAPCAN 2009). No to mention that 73% of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least one year and 45% do not tell anyone for five years (Broman-Fulks et al, 2007).

If you know a victim or think someone you know is a victim, keep calm and follow these steps to help assure the victim that you believe them and you are here to help. All the victims of sexual assault have emotional, psychological, and physical reactions that should be taken care of in certain ways.

First, remain calm and believe the victim.

The human body and brain are very resilient. Many victims fully recover from the emotional, physical, and psychological effects of the assault. For most, talking through the trauma is a key to healing.

Then, give the victim control and be available.

Empower the victim to make decisions. Remember, the victim is angry with the person who assaulted her or him and the situation, not with you. Just be there to listen.

Be confidential and patient.

Avoid making threats to the abuser; let the victim decide where and how he/she is going to tell the authorities, or allow them to decide what kind of help they need at the moment. The victim would be worried about your safety as well, so remember to stay calm.

The victim needs to know that regardless of what happened your relationship will stay the same, and he/she trusts you! Asking “Can I give you a hug?” can re-establish the victim’s sense of security, safety, and control.

While all this information could be overwhelming for you and you feel like it is necessary to tell the authorities, remember that this is their decision and the best you can do is listen and be there for them.

I know we are quarantined but remember to always check on those who are always happy or sad. Both extremes of the spectrum are equally exposed to having a bad reaction to this situation. 

Stay healthy and check on your loved ones in this quarantine. Remember to do things that bring joy to you and those around you. SAAM is a bit limited this year on taking action, but remember that if you or one of your close ones is a victim, they can become survivors with your help.

 

Some dates to show some love to victims and survivors:

April 7th : Day of Action — Show Off Your Teal Wear teal and share a selfie. Be sure to crosspost on other social media platforms using #SAAM.

April 18th : The Real Teal Pay tribute to the color of sexual violence prevention with a photo or illustration of something teal.

April 24th: Teal Ribbon in the Wild Find or place a teal ribbon somewhere in nature or somewhere unexpected.

April 29th : Denim Day: Wear Jeans with a Purpose Wear jeans to take a stand against victim blaming in honor of Denim Day. Head over to denimdayinfo.org to learn more about the campaign.

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