Resolve to End Sexual Violence
Nearly 52 per month. That is the average number of reported sexual assaults that have occurred in Denver in 2021. This number, while staggering, likely does not reflect reality and the number of assaults that have occurred is higher. According to the Department of Justice, only 31 percent of sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement.
This is a wake-up call. As a community, we must come together and work toward ending sexual violence. Here are three things we can all resolve to do to build a more caring community that is safer for everyone.
Make Prevention a Priority
Teaching youth about consent is imperative to preventing sexual violence. Consent education teaches young people what qualifies as consent—consent is not the absence of “no,” rather, it is the presence of an enthusiastic, uncoerced “yes.” It also teaches young people to recognize sexually inappropriate and violent behaviors, while promoting healthy, respectful relationships among young people that are in line with their own values and empowers them to communicate these values. These are lessons that young people will carry with them throughout their lives. If you are a parent or caregiver, ask your youth’s school to incorporate consent education.
We can all also harness our own power as active bystanders to prevent sexual violence. When you hear inappropriate comments or language that normalizes sexual violence, speak up and gently correct the speaker. Likewise, if you see a potentially risky situation, safely intervene.
Always Start by Believing
Sexual assault is the only crime where the victim becomes the accused. It is common for victims to be asked about their attire, level of intoxication and sexual history. According to RAINN, this victim-blaming contributes to the silencing of survivors of sexual assault, which means that they may not seek support from loved ones or centers like The Blue Bench—compounding the trauma from the assault and hindering healing. Moreover, the perpetrator of the assault is not held accountable for their harmful actions.
When we actively support and believe survivors, this paradigm shifts. When we start by believing survivors, they are more likely to seek systems of support and are more likely to seek justice. Most importantly, the survivor of the sexual assault receives the care that they need to heal from the assault. Additionally, the perpetrator is more likely to be held accountable for their actions. This accountability signifies a community with a zero tolerance for sexually violent behaviors—a message that we must send to would-be perpetrators.
Get Involved in the Movement to End Sexual Violence
We all play a role in ending sexual violence. In addition to making prevention a priority and always starting by believing, you can deepen your involvement by supporting organizations like The Blue Bench. Visit our website at thebluebench.org to learn about volunteer opportunities and to donate to our organization. Make 2022 another year in which we get closer to creating a more caring community free from sexual violence.
At The Blue Bench, we envision a future where there are zero assaults per month. With a strong community by our sides, we know that this vision will one day become a reality.