April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and while this is a subject that many families find difficult to talk about, it is an issue that affects thousands of people every day. Red River ER wants to show support for victims of sexual assault and help our local communities address this important issue. From learning the statistics of sexual assault to knowing how to talk to children about it, we are here to provide a guide on how to prevent sexual assault in your community.
The Effects of Sexual Assault
News stories have come out in recent years which had exposed just how much sexual assault has permeated various entertainment and professional industries, but what about your own neighborhood? CDC reports show that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual assault in some way. This can range from molestation to violent rape as well as any other sexual violence involving physical contact, but the frequency with which it occurs means that victims of sexual assault are everywhere.
Sexual assault can happen to both men and women, and the effects can be physical as well as mental. Assault doesn’t just leave injuries; it can leave victims with PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other serious mental health concerns. This is why it is so important for communities to rally together to not only support victims so they can get the help they need but also working together to combat sexual assault. Prevention comes in two forms: protection and education.
Protection from Sexual Assault
As teenagers we hear: never go to a party alone, never take a drink from someone you don’t know, and so on. These pieces of advice are often aimed at teens and young adults about the dangers of late-night parties and large events, but they can apply to people of any age. Here are some tips that can be used to help lower your risks of being assaulted:
- Never drink from an open container or glass that you did not open or pour yourself, or that you do not see prepared by a licensed bartender. Neglected drinks can easily be drugged or spiked by others.
- When going out to large parties, clubs, bars, and other events have at least one other person you trust with you and stick by their side. People who are alone are easier targets, and when traveling or attending large open events, having trusted friends or family with you is often the best defense.
- Taking extra security measures are also a big help. Today, many smartphones have added security features that will speed call police, record audio or video when in panic mode, and these can be great aids in protecting against possible sexual assaulters. Self-defense classes can also be beneficial in helping adolescents and adults know how to protect themselves if someone tries to assault them.
Putting up your physical defenses is helpful when trying to protect yourself in the face of immediate assault risks. But there are ways that families and friends in every community can help to prevent sexual assault attempts from happening in the first place.
Education Against Sexual Assault
Stopping sexual assault in its tracks is an effort that starts with education. Teaching new social norms and expectations to children and adults can change the way we think about sexual assault. Even small things, like asking before hugging a family member, can grow into a new cornerstone of awareness and understanding in your community.
- Teach children from a young age that consent is important. Not just for romantic or sexual advances, but in all forms. Let children set their personal boundaries and respect them. Teach children to ask before hugging or playing and show them at home how it is bad to touch anyone, even their friends, without asking first.
- Discourage any kind of humor or stigmas you see your family displaying which might excuse bad behavior. Teens joking about who is and is not sexually active might seem normal, but it can start stigmas and enable assaulters to act when they think no one is looking. Locker room talk, no matter if it comes from girls or boys, should be unacceptable in your home.
- Teach your children to reach out and talk to you or trusted adults when they think something is wrong. It can start with something as small as children feeling their teacher or babysitter has doled out an unfair punishment, but when parents show their children how to speak up when something isn’t right, it can help them to recognize when someone might be trying to take advantage of them later in life. Isolation and manipulation are key methods that sexual abusers use to trap their victims in seemingly hopeless situations. You can help to keep everyone in your community safe from this by giving children a safe place to speak up.
- Support victims of sexual assault and explain to children and teens how important it is for them to do the same. When we fight stigmas against sexual assault victims, we make it easier for other victims to speak out about their abusers.
Fighting against sexual assault is no easy task. There are shelters and organizations around the country that work to help victims of sexual assault, but this effort needs help. From everyone in each family and community, preventing sexual assault takes more than just awareness. It takes careful self-defense practices and educating your community about how to communicate and create a place of safety for victims to speak out.
Red River ER knows how hard it can be to address the subject of sexual assault. This is why we want to support our community during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Our facility is here, 24/7, to help patients of all ages with their medical emergencies. Our staff is well trained and compassionate, so even in cases of sexual assault, our facility will help get you the treatment you need.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Red River ER or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.