April is sexual assault awareness month. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. For transgender folks the rates are even higher: 47% of transgender individuals will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Sexual assault impacts everyone. Whether or not you have experienced it yourself, chances are someone you know has. Tackling this issue is no easy task, but there are lots of ways that we can support survivors and work to eliminate rape culture in our society.
Here are 5 ways that you can advocate for survivors of sexual assault.
1. Volunteer at your local hospital or help hotline
Lots of Emergency Departments and help hotlines have volunteer programs where you can answer calls or work as an immediate support person for survivors of sexual assault. It’s a great experience and an excellent opportunity to be on the frontline of advocating for survivors. Check with your local hospital or police department or check out the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) website for more information on how to get started.
2. Bring prevention training programs to your community
There are dozens of sexual assault prevention training programs that provide education and resources to communities looking to put an end to sexual assault.
Are you a college student? Contact your university and find out if they have any programs in place. Or bring a program to you! Green Dot, I Holla Back, Culture of Respect, and Coaches Corner are a few awesome organizations that provide resources and trainings to communities!
3. Raise your voice on social media
An easy way to advocate for sexual assault survivors is spreading awareness on social media! Share the facts, tell your story, and encourage people to get involved. Challenge rape culture through your posts and comments and promote accounts that are doing important advocacy work! An easy way to get started is sharing some of Live Your Dream’s social media factoids!
4. Take your concerns all the way to the top
What is your local government doing to support sexual assault survivors? Check in with your representatives and find out where they stand on these important issues (via RAINN):
- Access to Critical Care: Help ensure all survivors have access to the support and services of forensic nurses.
- DNA: Help end the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved crimes.
- Funding for Support Services: Help ensure that survivors get the assistance they deserve.
Write, call and tweet at your elected officials and make sure they are doing everything they can to support sexual assault survivors.
5. Get involved with organizations that support survivors
Not sure where to start? The National Sexual Violence Resource Center is a great place to find out what organizations are working in your city and how you can support them. Whether it’s donating money or volunteering your time, nonprofits need your support! LiveYourDream.org also has lots of resources for supporting survivors. Support the Live Your Dream Awards and be a part of transforming the lives of survivors.
Want to make a difference in the lives of survivors?
Take the pledge to put an end to violence against women and girls.
Elizabeth Endara is a writer, advocate, doula, educator and cat mom based in NYC. She loves Great British Bake-Off, Eastern Europe, snug coffee shops and writing about her feelings. She is the co-founder of a feminist blog called Release the Women, and she is excited to be working with liveyourdream.org helping to curate and tell stories that demonstrate the power of women!