Let’s talk about it: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month


By Ashley Wilson | Rise Above Violence 

If you follow the headlines, you know that child sexual abuse happens. It happens often and close to home. This reality can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that child sexual abuse can be prevented when we all play our part. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and, this April, communities across the country are standing up for child sexual abuse prevention by proclaiming “It’s time … to talk about it!” All adults have a role in child sexual abuse prevention, and this year’s campaign encourages individuals and communities to support healthy childhood sexual development by talking early, talking often and taking action. 

By learning and talking about healthy childhood sexual development, adults are able to support the children in their lives. When adults support age-appropriate behaviors, model healthy boundaries and speak up to other adults, they are an ally to prevention. It’s also our job to respect children, model healthy behaviors and boundaries, and confront adults when they act in ways that are not appropriate. 

Children and youth are affected by sexual assault: 

• One in six boys and one in four girls will experience sexual assault before the age of 18.

• One in three teens will experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend this year.

• Females ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.

• College-age women (18-24) are at more risk — those in college are at three times the risk and that same age group that are not in college are four times more likely to experience sexual assault.

There is often silence and discomfort when it comes to the discussion of sexual development. It’s important to understand that this is a normal experience we all share. By opening up communication, sharing age-appropriate information with children and educating one another we are taking steps toward a safer community. (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2013). Having an open communication mean that children and youth will also feel more comfortable coming forward and telling someone when something inappropriate is happening. 

For more information on how you can talk about healthy sexual development with your children and prevent child sexual abuse, call Rise Above Violence’s 24-hour hotline at (970) 264-9075. 

Mark your calendars and join us at our Denim Day walk on Wednesday, April 26. We meet at noon at the bell tower (intersection of U.S. 160 and Lewis Street). More about Denim Day will be included next week.

Rise is a nonprofit organization which promotes the belief that all people have the right to live free from violence. Rise provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving more than 350 victims each year. 

Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call (970) 264- 9075 to talk to an advocate today.