Lifestyle

Every 2 minutes, an American is sexually assaulted | Amy Johnson

Because April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, I want you to know that every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.

One in six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. One in every six men has experienced unwanted or abusive sexual experiences before age 16.

The similarity of these statistics, however, is contrasted by the gender of perpetrators. Fully 90 percent to 99 percent of all sexual assault, whether it occurs with a boy, girl, man or woman, is committed by men (Jeffrey Bucholtz of We End Violence). So what can we do to prevent sexual assault?

Consider the following litany of precautions we commonly expect women to take:

• Jog or walk only on main and well-lit roadways and not after dark

• Never hitchhike

• Never stay alone in the laundry room at college or an apartment building, or in a parking garage

• Never use isolated bus stops

• Use caution when talking to strangers

• Take a self-defense course and carry pepper spray

• Be aware of your surroundings at all times

• Never accept a drink from strangers at bars or parties

• Never leave your drink unattended

• Just don’t drink

And because the majority of sexual violence occurs by someone known to the victim, we better add to the list:

• Avoid excessive or even moderate flirting

• Travel in groups at all times

• Don’t trust men you don’t know — or men you do know…

• Pay for your own expenses on dates so the guy doesn’t think you owe him sexual favors

• Be careful of how you dress — not too sexy or attractive

Isn’t it interesting that, in a country where 90 percent to 99 percent of sexual assaults are committed by men, the responsibility for fixing the problem falls to women?

Men are not born violent. Most men do not agree with men’s violence toward others. Yet, they often do little or nothing to challenge it, and our cultural attitudes and norms about what it means to be “a man” often contribute to the acceptance of males behaving aggressively.

Here’s a list of what men can do to help prevent sexual assault (written by the Men’s Action Network):

• Learn to recognize sexism and challenge yourself to stop it when it occurs

• Challenge and interrupt sexist and otherwise inappropriate remarks, jokes, stories and behaviors

• Talk with and listen to women

• Talk about sex, expectations, and consent with your partner

• Do not support businesses that create or sell products that support sexual or domestic violence or sexual subordination/objectification

• Help develop and/or implement district-wide curriculum in schools that speaks to healthy relationships and healthy sexuality based on the foundations of mutual respect and value

• Review how the news media reports sexual and domestic assaults

• Discuss these issues with your sons, male friends, and co-workers

This month, in honor of sexual assault awareness and prevention, have a conversation with a guy you care about. Whether you’re a man or a woman, stand together to create a community where men are as involved in prevention as they are in perpetration.

 

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