HelpLine Sexual Assault Response Network (SARN) recently completed its recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) this April throughout Delaware, Morrow, Crawford and Wyandot counties. This year’s theme, “Embrace Your Voice,” builds on the idea that how you talk about sexual violence matters. Individuals can embrace their voices to show their support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children.
SAAM kicked off with a Take Back the Night event at Ohio Wesleyan University where students and community members gathered to “shatter the silence” shining light on the darkness of sexual and domestic violence. Other events during the month included a SARN Journaling Workshop for survivors of sexual assault, harassment or violence and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes as a part of First Friday’s in downtown Delaware, Ohio.
“We all have a unique role to play in prevention and changing the culture,” said Lauren MacDade, HelpLine Sexual Assault Services Director. “When we reflect on and change how we think and talk about the issue of sexual violence and consent, we can create a culture of respect, equality, and safety. All of our voices have power. It’s time for everyone to find that voice and embrace it.”
MacDade said that sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem, and is one of the most under reported crimes. It affects women, men and LGBTQ individuals, across all demographics including children, teens, adults, and seniors. Most survivors are assaulted by someone they know, such as acquaintances, family or other trusted individuals.
The Village of Mount Gilead and City of Delaware City Councils proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Months, while also recognizing the Day of Awareness to support the Day of Silence – a bringing attention to the harassment and bullying faced by LGBTQ youth in schools. Five students from Hayes H.S. were on hand to participate and witness the council proceedings.
“It was an amazing experience to participate and meet the City of Delaware Mayor Riggle,” said Hayes High School student Lindsey Page. “It was an honor to represent and bring attention to a cause everyone should care about – eliminating violence and harassment.”
SARN Coordinator Ashley Sinden and Allison Vance, SARN Volunteer Coordinator continued the conversation by appearing on Marion, Ohio based radio stations WMRN and WWGH. Sinden says that dispelling myths and stating the facts are two of many ways to foster a violence-free world.
“Our words shape the world around us,” said Sinden. “How we talk about sexual violence matters. When we reflect on and change how we think and talk about the issue of sexual violence and consent, we can create a culture of respect, equality and safety.”
Sinden and Vance also attended the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Advocacy Day at the Ohio Statehouse and End Violence Against Women International Conference in Chicago, Illinois – moving advocacy efforts forward.
MacDade believes that we are in a watershed moment and everyone’s voice is necessary. “With the country focused on this very important issue through the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve understanding and change behaviors. The time to rally communities and the broader public is now.”
To learn more about SARN, visit http://helplinedelmor.org/s-a-r-n/. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact our 24/7 support and information line at 1.800.684.2324 or text helpline to 898211.