April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a month to raise public awareness on sexual assault, educating our communities on how to prevent it. Here are 10 things you need to know about sexual assault:

Sexual assault does not discriminate.

It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, what religion you are, what gender you are, what political beliefs you hold, or what you’re wearing: anyone can be sexually assaulted. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 1 in 3 of the reported female rape survivors and 1 in 4 of the male reported rape survivors was sexually assaulted for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17.

Sexual assault rape examination kits are free.

And you do not have to report to the police just because you get a kit done.  The kit can be used if you decide that you do decide to press charges, but whether or not you press charges is entirely up to you. No one should be making the decision for you.

Some states have a statute of limitations with sexual assault.

It is unacceptable that arguably the most violating crime possible has a window of time to be prosecuted. Survivors may not be ready to come forward until they are older and dealt with their trauma. Lest we not forget, it is extremely traumatic and isn’t something someone gets over in a week or two.

Consent is crucial.

A no is a no. A very hesitant yes without absolute confirmation is a no. Attempts to pull away means no. Being drunk and someone saying yes is a no. If someone is not old enough to consent, have the capacity to consent (such as being drunk or high), or agree to the sexual contact, then it’s a hard no. If someone is mentally or physically helpless, unconscious, says nothing, or is coerced, then it is sexual assault if you engage in any sexual contact. Ask. For. Permission. Always.

Survivors aren’t alone and what happened to them isn’t their fault.

Society STILL has a problem with judging the survivor of a sexual assault which makes them feel as though they should be ashamed of what happened to them. It prolongs psychological effects and sets back the healing process.

Talking to a survivor who discloses their assault with you is a time to be very aware of your words.

Start by believing them. Then, offer your support in whatever decision they choose. If they want to go to the police, go with them. Guide them if they need resources. If they just need a friend to listen, be that person. Click here to read my article about what to say and not say to a survivor.

Donate to your local sexual assault centers.

They are always in need of supplies and monetary support. Some centers even employ a SANE nurse that can perform exams in a room in their center instead of a hospital.

Donate your time.

Many of these centers can use volunteers to act as survivor advocates who guide them through SANE exams as just a support system and friend during that scary time or sometimes even a court advocate who can explain to them what’s happening during the court process if a survivor. Just Google your local centers.

Spread the word about sexual assault awareness.

I sat my little cousin down before she went off to school and had a very serious conversation about safety and sexual assaults. It’s not an easy conversation or a fun conversation, but it is a conversation that needs to be had. Sexual assault can not be a subject we shy away from because it’s “TMI.”

Know your resources

If you or someone you know need someone to talk to or need any additional resources, RAINN is a great organization with a national 24/7 hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673) and you can visit their website here

You are not alone. We support you. We believe you.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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