Promoting awareness of sexual assault

To the editor:

April is just around the corner. Did you know that April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, Alcoholism Awareness Month, Autism Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month? As a domestic violence services provider, the Christina House has a vested interest in promoting awareness of sexual assault.

Sexual assault and domestic violence co-occur in many relationships. Studies have shown that 30 to 40 percent of domestic violence victims will also experience intimate partner sexual assault.

Victims who are both physically and sexually abused are more likely to be injured or killed than victims who experience one form of abuse. As you can see, domestic violence and sexual assault are very closely linked. That’s why we are promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The theme for this year is “I Ask.” This theme reminds each one of us to ask permission when we want to engage in physical contact with another person or to share information about them. Though we often think in these terms in regards to the sexual realm, asking for permission extends beyond the sexual realm. For instance, kids should be taught that it is right for an adult or peer to ask them for consent to give them a hug, or even a high-five. This begins the process of teaching kids personal boundaries and empowers them to take ownership of their own bodies.

“I Ask” gives opportunity to consent to or decline physical contact. Helping kids to ask for consent and accept rejection builds a foundation for practicing consent in intimate relationships as they get older. You can show your child ways to ask for consent by modeling the words and actions yourself. Model respect for boundaries by asking your child for consent and accepting their answer.

To show you stand with victims of sexual assault, the Christina House invites you to join us in Wear Teal Day on April 2. Show your colors on Tuesday April 2 and help us raise awareness of sexual assault and the need to ask for consent.

Nickie Ostick,

The Christina House DV Program,

Lisbon

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