Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is about raising awareness for the prevalence, prevention, and resources around sexual violence. The official color is teal.
For most of my career I have focused on raising awareness around the prevalence. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. And every 2 minutes, in this country alone, someone is sexually assaulted. It was my goal to help people know they were not alone.
There have been several cases in the media over the past couple of years that have brought attention to perpetrators of sexual violence. Various Priests covering up abuse, Jerry Sandusky, and of course, most recently, Steubenville with their “star” football players.
While all of these cases of abuse are horrible, we have to acknowledge there has certainly been an increase in people having to face the reality of abuse. Hmm, I just noticed the coincidence of the football connection with 2 of the referenced examples. I wonder if those cases would have been such big news had they involved the car dealer or bank teller down the street? Maybe a topic for another day 🙂
People continue to feel very alone and embarrassed, even with the relatively recent increase in discussion around abuse and assault.
Maybe it’s because of the continued victim blaming that continues across the world. Maybe it’s because of the inherent shame created by such a personal violation. Maybe it’s because it’s incredibly rare for a perpetrator to be charged, let alone have consequences to their behavior.
I have noticed in the 15 years I have been working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse the message has primarily been you’re not alone. No doubt, a very important message.
What has been missing is the message that healing is possible. In fact, much of the time, there is a message that your life is ruined, it will never be the same.
My mission as I enter into this new phase of my career is to let people know that you can heal from sexual abuse. So, this year for SAAM, I will be talking about healing from sexual abuse. I will share stories of those who have experienced healing and talk about various aspects of what it means and how it happens.
Please join me in this conversation. Let’s spread the message that, while sexual abuse is devastating, it doesn’t have to ruin your entire life. Help, hope and healing are available and possible!
Let me know what you think. Join me on Twitter and Facebook for more conversation.