by: Debbie Brockman, Program Manager, ASPEN Victim Advocacy Services
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The goal is to raise awareness about sexual violence, the impact it has on our communities, and to educate the community about how to prevent it. This year Sexual Assault Awareness Month is celebrating its 18th anniversary with the theme “I Ask”. It is important to raise awareness about sexual violence but our ultimate goal is to prevent sexual violence from ever occurring. With the theme of “I Ask”, we are challenging everyone to put the empowering message of consent into practice. We want the message to be clear that when we talk about consent, we are talking about more than asking for or giving consent to engage in sexual activity. The message of the consent must start much earlier than that. Asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.
Is it ok if I give you a hug?
Is it ok if I hold your hand?
Is it ok if I post this picture of you on social media?
Is it ok if I…?
Sexual Assault is a widespread and serious problem in our country. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 67 men in the US have experienced rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives (Smith et al. 2017). Aspen Victim Advocacy Services is committed to providing advocacy to victims of sexual violence, community education, and a renewed focus on preventing sexual violence before it even has a chance to happen. This will require changing the social norms that allow sexual violence to exist, from individual attitudes, values, and behaviors to changes in our laws, institutions, and widespread social norms. Prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Please be a part of the solution by creating and promoting safe environments, intervening when you see concerning behavior, and by promoting and modeling healthy relationships.