This April, organizations across the nation will be holding events and trainings in communities and on college campuses in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual violence impacts many of those around us and has been brought to the forefront through the Me Too and Time's Up movements.
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men in the United States will experience some type of sexual violence in their lifetime. Sexual violence is an umbrella term used to describe any sexual act committed without freely given consent—including sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and abuse.
The California Office of Emergency Services reports that rape crisis centers in the state served 32,635 survivors during the 2015-16 fiscal year. These centers provide vital services to victims, including prevention education, confidential crisis counseling, and accompaniments to law enforcement and medical appointments.
It is imperative that we continue to engage on this issue in order to foster a more inclusive, respectful, and equitable society. Each of us has an active role to play in this dialogue, and I ask that you consider how you can contribute to the conversation and be part of the solution to addressing gender-based violence. A great first step is looking into what local organizations are doing during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and attending an event or training to get educated on the issue.
If you need support, want to find more information, or are unsure about how to support someone affected by sexual violence, you can contact the national Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network hotline at (800) 656-4673 to speak to a certified crisis counselor or receive referrals for local services.
Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Please join me by staying involved in this conversation throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month and beyond.