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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 17, 2013

Trigger warning: Discussion of sexual assault.

Logo for the 2013 Sexual Assualt Awareness Month campaign

Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? I didn’t either, until I started working for my local health department back in 2010. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a time to educate others on what healthy sexual behaviors are and how to prevent sexual violence.

We need education and awareness more than ever. During the intense 2012 election year,  former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, with the help of Missouri Senator Todd Akin, tried to limit abortion funding to pregnancies that result from “forcible rape” (their definition). Senator Akin also made an extremely controversial statement about rape, which led to public backlash from both women and men, and ultimately led to him losing his seat to Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Earlier this year, the public shaming of a rape victim in the Steubenville, Ohio high school football player case touched off another debate about society’s treatment of rape and its victims. The teenage defendants were found guilty and will have to register as sex offenders.

Part of the problem regarding the attitude towards sexual violence is that many people still have the idea that rape usually involves a woman and a stranger who abducts her and commits the crime in a secluded location. Of course that does happen, but according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim:  78% of rapes were committed by a non-stranger with 38% being a friend/acquaintance, 28% being an intimate partner, and 7% being a relative. More than 50% of all rape and related sexual violence occurs within one mile of the victim’s home, with the majority at the victim’s own home.  You can read other statistics here.

So how does this all correlate to fat? Well, rape victims come in all shapes and sizes. The majority of rapists don’t care if their victims don’t look like supermodels or Hollywood stars. Yet insensitive remarks are spewed from random strangers about how fat rape victims “should be glad someone wanted to have sex with them.” If you look at this old post at Red No. 3 where Brian listed fat shaming moments tweeted on Twitter, there’s one where a fat woman was asked “who would rape you?” by a police officer while in the back of an ambulance.

So, what can we do when it comes to promoting awareness and education about sexual violence? It doesn’t have to be an epic campaign. There are small things we can do that are just as meaningful.  If someone tells a rape joke at your workplace or at a gathering or on a Facebook page, let them know it’s not funny and not okay.

If your neighborhood participates in National Night Out (which takes place in August), organize a block party or just leave your porch lights on to let others know you are taking a stand against violence. Make a monetary donation you can afford to an organization you trust that offers support to rape victims and promotes awareness of sexual violence, such as RAINN. The more people that become enlightened, the better.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2013 10:06 am

    Thanks for posting the information.

  2. April 18, 2013 7:02 am

    It happened to me twice as an adult, and I have a very strong suspicion that it happened to me when I was quite young, like two years old, but I have no clear memory, only flashbacks. Yes, it has affected my life. I don’t go around thinking about it all the time. I’m not afraid to be home alone. I’m not afraid to go to the grocery store. I no longer have panic attacks. But what happened to me clearly affected me.
    I tend to be very defensive (although being mentally ill and fat may already have made me that way to a degree) and sometimes when sexual topics come up, even clinical ones, I bristle and become very uncomfortable.
    I never reported either of the adult assaults because both times (there was about 15 years separation, two different perpetrators) I was drunk, and therefore figured that I would be told I was at fault. I had no allies. I suffered in silence.
    To this day I absolutely refuse to get a gynecological exam. It simply ain’t happening. I don’t imagine it’s that big of a deal, as I’ve been celibate for many, many years. Nonetheless, this is a way in which I have been affected.
    Please don’t tell me to get counseling. I quite literally can’t afford it.
    Peace.

  3. April 18, 2013 7:02 am

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    It happened to me twice as an adult, and I have a very strong suspicion that it happened to me when I was quite young, like two years old, but I have no clear memory, only flashbacks. Yes, it has affected my life. I don’t go around thinking about it all the time. I’m not afraid to be home alone. I’m not afraid to go to the grocery store. I no longer have panic attacks. But what happened to me clearly affected me.
    I tend to be very defensive (although being mentally ill and fat may already have made me that way to a degree) and sometimes when sexual topics come up, even clinical ones, I bristle and become very uncomfortable.
    I never reported either of the adult assaults because both times (there was about 15 years separation, two different perpetrators) I was drunk, and therefore figured that I would be told I was at fault. I had no allies. I suffered in silence.
    To this day I absolutely refuse to get a gynecological exam. It simply ain’t happening. I don’t imagine it’s that big of a deal, as I’ve been celibate for many, many years. Nonetheless, this is a way in which I have been affected.
    Please don’t tell me to get counseling. I quite literally can’t afford it.
    Peace.

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