April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

April sexual assault awareness month

What is sexual assault? Sexual assault is a term that includes any type of unwanted or forced sexual activity, or touching of private parts. Sexual assault includes rape, incest, sexual abuse and molestation. April is sexual assault awareness month and I think it is very important for everyone (men and women) to know what sexual assault is.

A perpetrator can be a stranger or someone you know. Many people are unaware of this, but sexual assault can happen within a relationship or marriage. The term marital rape is a term that many people do not know about. There is this idea that if you are married there is no way your partner can rape you. However, that is false. Marital rape consists of non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. Marital rape is illegal in every state but unfortunately continues to happen and it is the least researched and is hardly every reported.  This is caused by the patriarchal society in which we live in. A woman is expected to be available for sex whenever her husband wants it because the man is “supposed” to be the one who makes decisions. If you want to learn more facts about the topic of marital rape click here.

On March 28th I attended a training to become a peer advocate. It was a public training that was provided by Kan-Win which is an organization that works with primarily Asian American women who are victims of violence. The training was eight hours but did not feel like it. The amount of information that was provided really made time fly. When thinking about the topics of domestic violence and sexual assault, you do not really think that there could be such an intense amount of information that needs to be learned. The amount of information is more than I could have imagined. We did a couple of activities that really allowed you to get a sense of what a victim goes through.

The first activity that we did consisted of finding a partner and each person was given a small piece of paper with 4 bullet points on it. One person had to close their eyes and the other person had to have their partner do what their piece of paper indicated. When the tasks were completed, the person who had their eyes opened had to close them and complete the tasks indicated in their partners paper. The person with their eyes closed had to walk around the room, lift their left leg for 10 seconds, clap their hands 10 times, among other tasks.  The purpose of this activity is to get a sense of the powerlessness that a victim feels while she is with her abuser. The fact that a victim depends on their abuser and receiving orders from their abuser. The other activity consisted of getting a scenario and with a partner you had to play it out. One person had to play the victim and the other had to be the advocate. It was an opportunity to get a sense of how a victim tells her/his story to a friend or family member and how that family member or friend should respond as a peer advocate.

I really enjoyed the training because it was a new experience and it helped me better equip myself with tools that I can use in case I encounter a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. However, I was saddened to see that the group of people who attended were mainly women. There were only four men in the group. I would have liked to see a larger amount of people in the group because domestic violence and sexual assault is not something that only women should learn about. These are topics that men should also learn about because most sexual assault and domestic violence crimes are commited by men. In order to combat these issues, the root causes need to be targeted.

I invite everyone to participate in combating the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault by educating yourselves about the topic. Also, everyone should find a way in which they can contribute to combating the issue, whether it is educating your freinds, family and coworkers, attending workshops, or even volunteering at non-profit organizations. Stay tuned for a second post on this topic !

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