By Rev. Brittany Graves
Before the month ends, I would be remiss not to mention that April is sexual assault awareness month. In all the things we raise awareness about and celebrate like Black History Month, Earth Day, or Women’s History Month, in this month of April and onward may we also raise awareness about sexual assault.
When we raise awareness, it can create a world where we treat each other with dignity, gain valuable information, and better support one another. I imagine a world where the more children have a kid-friendly awareness of sexual assault the more they will have the ability to be mindful of their autonomy and practice consent. It would have made a world of difference for me to have heard regular conversations from adults on respect and sex positivity in church settings growing up as a teen or young adult. It was not until I stepped into more spaces outside of church that I heard regular conversations on consent, setting boundaries, and power dynamics.
It takes a lot of courage for survivors to speak up and even more support to report sexual assault. Not only should survivors be believed and given safe space to speak their truth, but allies and faith leaders should more frequently speak up too. It can be as simple as disrupting subtle, societal norms that criticizes a girl for wearing short shorts, challenging the narrative of ‘boys being boys’ or welcoming gender expression. It creates space for safety that disallows sexual violence from occurring or more promptly responds to sexual assault.
If we can liberate how we think or talk about sexuality and sex education, then it opens dialogue that is healthy, non-judgmental, and constructive. I am ready for a world where these are not taboo conversations, so that we can more candidly confront sexual assault and the silence that perpetuates its continued cycle.
- Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 995 perpetrators walk free, 46 reports lead to arrests, 9 cases go to court, and 5 will be convicted.
- 63% of sexual assaults are never reported.
- 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault in their lifetime.
- 1 in 6 men experience sexual abuse before age 18.
Questions to consider:
- In what ways does gender identity impact sexual assault awareness?
- How do you support survivors or confront sexual violence?
Gracious God, may we lift up the survivors of sexual violence who struggle to speak up or find safe spaces to share their truth. May we stand in the gap to lift up our brothers, sisters, and gender non-conforming folx who are seeking community and support to heal from assault. May we face the challenges, subtle and overt queues of harmful theology or beliefs that do not uplift solidarity with survivors. Let us recognize the ongoing journey that survivors face and become equipped to prevent violence from happening.
Rev. Brittany Graves is associate coordinator, Public Witness & Advocacy, American Baptist Home Mission Societies. She welcomes your input at [email protected] and engagement on Instagram @ambitiouslyBrittany.
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