Preventing Sexual Violence

sexual violence

Sexual violence is a serious crime and is a widespread problem in our society. It can take many forms: sexual assault, sex offenders, and partner violence. It can also include other forms of victimization such as bullying, verbal abuse, stalking and other types of emotional and psychological harm.

While cultural factors play a role in sexual violence, we must also recognize that it is a choice to exert power over someone else’s body and that it is never the survivor’s fault. Sexual violence can be caused by a variety of reasons such as alcohol and drugs, poor decision making, distorted concepts of gender and sexuality and a variety of mental health issues.

The victims of sexual violence can experience many physical and economic impacts. These include medical bills, loss of income due to time off work or being unable to work, and the impact on their relationships, personal well-being and ability to complete daily tasks such as taking care of children and household chores. They may also be at risk of developing a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV.

Survivors of sexual assault can feel a range of emotions, including fear, shame, guilt and anger. They can also struggle with depression and anxiety. They can experience PTSD, which is a long-term trauma that can cause flashbacks, nightmares and feelings of panic and terror. They can have problems with eating and sleeping. They can have trouble concentrating at school or at work and can often be easily overwhelmed by everyday stressors.

When a loved one experiences sexual violence, it can affect everyone who loves and supports them. It can have a major impact on the relationship with their partners, children, parents, friends and co-workers. It can lead to isolation. Often, they have to reassess their own values and beliefs. They may have to cope with the fact that they were not able to prevent the assault from happening, even though they did everything they could to try to protect themselves and others.

Loved ones of survivors of sexual assault can help by promoting healthy relationships and behaviors, believing survivors and helping them find resources for support. They can be aware of the warning signs and be supportive if they decide to report the assault to authorities. They can help by listening, validating their feelings and avoiding questions like “why did this happen to you?”

Preventing sexual assault requires action on the part of everyone. We can all promote safe behaviors in the workplace and community by addressing the underlying causes of sexual assault. We can teach young people the importance of obtaining informed consent before engaging in sex and encourage them to speak up if they are being sexually harassed or assaulted. We can encourage men to take responsibility for their own behavior and change the culture of misogyny and sexual violence. We can help challenge the images of sexual violence shown in advertising, pornography, and professional wrestling by expressing our opposition to them. We can support women and men who are working to end sexual violence by volunteering our time, donating money or lobbying legislators.