In light of the recent murder of Sarah Everard, a British female who was kidnapped and killed by a police officer in London, there has been a rise in awareness for sexual assault and harassment (especially male against female crimes). It also just so happens to have occurred right on the cusp of National Sexual Assault Awareness month.
Sexual assault and harassment is something that all too many women (and men) have experienced. 40% of American women have faced sexual violence in their life, as well as 20% of men. One out of six women in America have been or were attempted to have been raped. A recent survey done shows that 97% of women have been sexually harassed in public. These statistics are startling and heart wrenching, because of the amount of trauma that is involved with sexual assault. It can result in a feeling of self-degradation, a fear of sexual intimacy, struggles with PTSD, and many more troubles after the assault.
Sexual assault awareness not only involves being aware of the struggles those around you may have faced regarding being harassed or assaulted, but also involves raising the youth of the upcoming generations to be less tolerant of assault and more mindful of how they treat each other. Consent is an important thing to teach young children, that even simply touching someone’s arm must involve asking them for permission. Consent can be taught in many ways, like a parent asking if their child would like a hug before giving them one, by telling them it is okay if they do not want to do something, or by helping them set their own boundaries. Another important aspect of teaching consent is modelling asking permission to children, as it is a great way for children to learn.
Learning starts from the family, especially parents and older siblings (or main caregivers). It requires being explicitly taught and being taught from watched behavior. Be the person you hope your children to be and strive to push towards a safer world for them!
Written by Emma, Undergrad Intern 2021
If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this and are in the Chicago area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.