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Column

Send a powerful message against sexual assault

Deb Walter
Sexual Assault Program manager for YWCA of the Sauk Valley
Deb Walter Sexual Assault Program manager for YWCA of the Sauk Valley

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There have been many recent high-profile sexual violence cases in the news. These cases include child sexual abuse, sexual harassment in the news and entertainment industries, and sexual assault committed by powerful actors and musicians. The one upside of these reports is that people are becoming more aware of the problem of sexual violence and the impact it has on survivors of this violence.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Every 9 minutes, that victim is a child. Chances are someone you know is a survivor of sexual violence. They might not have told anyone out of fear of being blamed or judged. If someone in your life is considering sharing something personal with you, they are likely listening to your opinions or attitudes for clues on how you will respond.

That means when you hear comments that blame victims or make light of sexual violence, speak up so others know you don’t agree. Even if you don’t have a perfect response, this shows that you believe survivors and you are a safe person to talk to. If you say, “I believe people when they say someone has hurt them,” you send a powerful message that you believe and support survivors of sexual violence.

Whether you are showing your support for a survivor or helping someone better understand these issues, your voice has power. Join the YWCA of the Sauk Valley in embracing your role in ending sexual violence. Together we make a difference.

If you or someone you know would like more information about Sexual Assault Awareness Month or our services, please call us at 815-626-7277 or 815-288-1011. The YWCA is a United Way agency.

Note to readers: Deb Walter is the Sexual Assault program manager at YWCA of the Sauk Valley.

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