Sexual Violence

EVERY month is Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

 

Though April is now over, we are mindfully leaving the sexual assault information on the website a little longer. The issue of sexual assault is not something relevant to only one month during the year, but throughout the year. 

 

HOW YOU TALK ABOUT SEXUAL VIOLENCE MATTERS: The things you say every day send a message about your beliefs and values. When you stand up for survivors of sexual violence, you send a powerful message that you believe and support them.

 

HOW YOUR WORDS AFFECT OTHERS:

 

  • 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.

  • A comment or joke based on assumptions or stereotypes might not seem like a big deal, but it could make someone feel unsafe about sharing personal or painful things with you. For example: " I could never tell her what happened to me. She said if victims of sexual assault don't go to the police, then it wasn't serious."

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

 

  • Don't wait for a critical moment to say the right things. The words you choose every day communicate your values.

  • 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 show that you do not believe in stereotypes, you believe survivors and you are a safe person to talk to. For example: "That commercial made me uncomfortable. I don't know exactly why, but I think everyone should be treated with respect." or, "I don't think that's true - I believe people when they say that someone has hurt them."

 

EVERYDAY CONSENT People often think consent is only important when it comes to sex.

ASK FOR CONSENT WHEN TOUCHING

 

  • It is important to ask for consent before hugging, tickling, or other kinds of touch.

  • Ask sincerely so others understand that it is okay to say no.

  • For people who have experienced sexual abuse, any unexpected touch can be scary and traumatic. Others may just prefer more personal space.

 

RESPECT PRIVACY

  • Everyone has boundaries. Some people like to keep things about themselves private, while others are more open.

  • If someone shares personal information with you, it's important to ask what their boundaries are. For example: My cousin was assaulted and is afraid they will never feel okay again. Is it okay if I tell them that you're a survivor, too? It's all right if you are not comfortable with that."

 

ASK PERMISSION

  • Just like everyone has different boundaries about touch, everyone has different levels of comfort about sharing things online, like photos.

  • It is important to always ask before posting or tagging photos of someone on social media. For example: "This is a great picture of all of us! Is it okay if I share it online, or should I take another one without the kids in it? I know you don't often post photos of them."

 

SEX AND CONSENT

  • Sex without consent isn't sex. It's sexual assault.

  • Consent must be freely given. A person must understand what they are agreeing to, and they can change their mind at any time.

  • Consent needs to be clear and enthusiastic. The absence of "no" or silence does not mean "yes."

  • Past consent does not mean current or future consent.

  • When drugs or alcohol are involved, clear consent is not possible. A person who is intoxicated or impaired cannot give consent. 

     

HOW TO HANDLE THE "NO"

 

THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN IN YOUR LIFE. Whether you're thinking of your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or friend's child, you want the to always feel safe and secure. Help kids feel safe by teaching them that the choices they make about their bodies deserve to be respected.

 

WHAT IS CONSENT?

 

ASK FOR CONSENT

 

LISTEN TO THE ANSWER

 

ACCEPT "NO"

 

RELATIONSHIPS AND CONSENT

 

INCEST 

From RAINN (Rape, Incest and Abuse National Network): If you have experienced sexual abuse by a family member, you are not alone - and what happened to you is not your fault. While it may be difficult to talk about, you should know that this is an issue that impacts many people. The majority of juvenile victims know the perpetrator, and approximately 34 percent of perpetrators in cases of child sexual abuse are family members. It is never too late to reach out for support. For survivors in Orange or northern Windsor Counties (Sharon, Royalton, Bethel, Stockbridge & Rochester), please call Safeline's toll free number at 1-800-639-7233. For survivors in other locations, please contact RAINN's hotline at 800-656-HOPE or online.rainn.org to reach the sexual violence program serving your town.

  • Whenever you are asking for someone's consent, they could say "no."

  • Accept the answer and move on. Don't pressure someone to change their mind. 

  • It's okay to feel disappointed with a "no" answer. But always remember that respecting boundaries is the right thing to do.

  • Consent means giving someone a choice about touch or actions and respecting the answer they give. 

  • Practicing consent in how you interact with kids teaches healthy communication and that their body belongs to them. 

  • Ask for consent in everyday interactions. For example:"Do you want a hug goodbye today? We could also wave or high five." or, "Can I sit beside you while we read this book?"

  • Model that asking for consent is an ongoing process. For example: "Do you need a break from tickling or are tickles still okay with you?" 

  • Nonverbal cues can be hard for young children to understand. 

  • Modeling consent helps kids understand that the absence of a verbal "no" does not mean "yes." For example: "you're hiding behind your mom. It looks like you would rather wave goodbye to me today." 

  • If you ask a child for a hug or kiss and they say "no," accept their answer cheerfully, even if you are disappointed. 

  • Don't show anger or pout, even playfully - this sends mixed messages. For example: "Okay, no kiss today. See you later!" 

  • A child should never be forced to show physical affection to an adult, even if they are a relative or family friend. For example, "It's time to leave. How do you want to say goodbye?" 

  • This idea could go against your family or cultural norms or be different than what you experienced as a child. 

  • Think about ways you can uphold your values while also incorporating consent. For example, " Some people in our family give hugs and kisses to show their love, but you can show you love in other ways, if you want to, like a smile or kind words." 

© 2019 by Safeline, Inc.

1-800-639-7233

P.O. BOX 368 CHELSEA, VERMONT 05038