April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, two great reasons to raise awareness. Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their eighteenth birthday. As many as 93 percent of the children are abused by someone they know and trust.
These are the facts. For many of you this is not the first time you’ve heard these astonishing statistics. You groan, cringe and occasionally talk about the facts you hear. Then what? The phone rings, the dog barks or a favorite reality show begins and the thoughts of abuse are gone.
For the survivors of sexual abuse it’s not that simple. There may be distractions but they are brief. The emotional scars of abuse resurface, linger, gnaw and sometimes destroy. Some, like myself, make the difficult decision to face their demons and take the journey to healing. Others live a life compromised by the underlying pain.
How often have you heard, or said: I don’t know anyone who has been abused. I know my children are safe. I can’t imagine what survivors go through. What can I do?
I have a great deal to say about each of those common remarks, but I will try to keep this short.
I don’t know anyone? Maybe no one has told you they were abused but looking at the statistics it is likely that you do know someone who has been sexually abused.
I know my children are safe? Remember, over 90% of children are abused by someone they know and trust and children don’t tell. They are threatened, frightened and shamed into silence. You do not know your children are safe.
I can’t imagine how a survivor feels.True, you can’t, but do you still support cancer research and survivors even if you haven’t had cancer? I’m guessing most of you would say–yes.
During this month, as we raise awareness for sexual abuse, let’s also raise the level of support.
Whether it is today, this month when you are asked to make a donation to a charity of your choice, please consider one of the many organizations dedicated to supporting survivors and working to prevent sexual violence towards adults and children. Here are a few of my favorites:
Stop It Now! has been helping adults and communities prevent the sexual abuse of children since 1992, providing innovative strategies, practical tools and confidential help to keep children and families safe – and to stop child sexual abuse.
Erin Merryn, survivor, activist and author, travels the country asking legislators to pass Erin’s Law, which requires schools to teach children about sexual abuse. Five states have passed the law with 10 states pending. She will not stop until all 50 states are doing their part to prevent child sexual abuse.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization providing programs to prevent sexual violence, helping victims and ensuring rapists are brought to justice as well as operating the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
Jane Doe No More is improving the way society responds to survivors of sexual assault through education, awareness, advocacy, and support.
You can make a difference for that person you “don’t know.”
Thank you, Roberta