April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and its theme this year is “Embrace Your Voice.”
In the United States, nearly one in five women (and one in 67 men) is a victim of sexual assault. Because of this shocking prevalence, it is important for everyone to help prevent sexual violence in our community. People should make known the importance of promoting safety, respect and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens.
Individuals can embrace their voices to show their support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children and teens.
We know that one month is not enough to solve the serious and widespread issue of sexual violence. However, the attention April generates is an opportunity to energize and expand prevention efforts throughout the year.
Freedom House services are available 24/7 through our hotline, with trained advocates ready to assist victims of sexual violence. We respond to hospitals to assist victims through medical and legal procedures. We provide victims with assistance in obtaining orders of protection, civil no-contact orders, or stalking no-contact orders.
Freedom House offers counseling to survivors and significant others to help them cope with the feelings associated with the trauma of sexual assault. We are also able to provide professional trainings to law enforcement, civic groups, schools and health providers, and education presentations in schools.
We encourage everyone to take steps to address sexual violence in their communities. Sexual violence impacts everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.
Last year, Freedom House provided almost 1,200 hours of service to more than 100 survivors of sexual violence in Bureau, Henry, Marshall, Putnam and Stark counties. And we made educational presentations to more than 13,800 students on personal body safety, anti-bullying and healthy relationships.
Please join us in embracing your role in ending sexual assault. Learn more about how you can use your voice to change the culture by calling Freedom House at 1-800-474-6031, by visiting our website at freedomhouseillinois.org, or by following us on Facebook @freedomhouseillinois or @vavcoalition.
Note to readers: Stacey Hoffman-Rosalez is Sexual Assault Program manager for Freedom House in Princeton.