The first week in February marks sexual abuse and violence awareness week. It’s an opportunity for everyone to think about and discuss what sexual abuse and violence means.
Sexual violence is defined as a sexual act committed against someone without their consent. With many myths and misinformation surrounding consent, it’s important to remind ourselves what this is and help with educating others. If there’s one thing we aim with this blog post, it’s to help with understanding consent. The bottom line is if you are ‘having sex, or doing something intimate with another person, it is important that they want to be doing it too’¹. This rule extends to consent, even if you are in a long term relationship. Each and every time, regardless of whom with, should involve a ‘yes’ from all parties involved.
Sadly rhetoric such as ‘she/he was asking for it’ or ‘they were drunk’ are common myths and misinformation that perpetrators use to defend themselves. But by having dedicated awareness days/weeks society can seek to challenge these excuses for abusive behaviour whenever we hear them.
In the UK alone approximately 69,000 women and 9,000 men are victims of rape or attempted rape. More shocking is that about 90% of victims know their perpetrator prior to the offence¹.
These figures put into perspective how many victims know their perpetrator and why speaking out can be difficult. Not only is there psychological trauma from the act itself, but also the barrage of questions ‘should I tell on a loved one’ and ‘will anyone believe me?’
Alongside the psychological trauma, victims especially in cases of rape also have to contend with potential impact from a health perspective.
That’s why talking about it and raising its importance is one thing we can all do this awareness week. If you want to join in please visit http://sexualabuseandsexualviolenceawarenessweek.org/ for more details or get involved in the conversation on social using the hashtag #itsnotok.