Chances are, you know someone like me who was sexually abused or even raped.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. As someone who has experienced firsthand what sexual violence can do to a life, I make every effort to change societal attitudes on this vital topic.
Sexual assault is prevalent in America, just as it is around the world. At some point during her life, at least one of every three women in the U.S. is physically or sexually abused. One out of every five high school girls is physically and/or sexually abused by someone she is dating. Four women are murdered every day by an intimate male partner.
When a woman is raped, or when a young girl of 11 is gang-raped, as happened recently, the first assumption is that she was “asking for it.” Was her skirt too short? Was she wearing too much makeup? Was she drunk? Did she lead him on? Our tendency is to blame the victim.
So, what is our role in making this kind of violent behavior possible?
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (www.nsvrc.org) has identified five norms that shape our behavior and attitudes surrounding sexual violence:
The objectification and oppression of women. Despite the many strides that women have made, they are still not respected and treated as equals in many areas.
The high value of having power over others.
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