Changing Culture’s Perspective on Sexual Assault
In the United States, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in order to raise awareness about sexual violence, and to educate communities on how to prevent it. Sexual violence is a serious and widespread social problem. Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives; and estimates are 1 in 71 men have this experience1. Victims report experiencing short-term effects such as guilt, shame, fear, numbness, shock, and isolation. Longer-term effects may manifest in post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, depression, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections. No human being deserves to suffer the physical and emotional consequences of sexual victimization.
Many organizations have emerged with the mission to end sexual abuse and violence. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, is one such organization that provides leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence. It began its work through funding from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention. This year, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s campaign theme for April is “Engaging New Voices.”
For this month’s Promoting Awareness and Wellness, we met up with Victoria Iyamba, Student Access and Wellness Counselor at Ashford University, and discussed this year’s theme. She explains how we can all use our voices to change culture to prevent sexual violence, discusses the effects of sexual assault, and helps us understand how to support those in need. Victoria shared, “Although one month cannot solve the gravity of sexual violence, the hope is that the attention this month brings will produce energy, create opportunities, and expand prevention efforts to a broader audience.”
In her role that supports students who have been victimized by sexual violence, Victoria shares a quote from Margot Walstrom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, "Sexual violence is a way of demonstrating power and control. It inflicts fear on the whole community. And it is unfortunately a very effective, cheap, and silent weapon with a long lasting effect on every society."
To hear more from Victoria, check out this month’s PAWS video.
Written by Ashford University staff
1Media Packet. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2017, from http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/media_outreach_packet_final508.pdf