2018 04 BLOG NEEDS REPLC

AWARENESS

Why Awareness Matters

April 04, 2018

It’s that time of the year again. It’s the one month of the year where we turn our focus to a topic that occurs every day of every year. April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the opportunity to shine the light of awareness on a topic that so easily hides in the darkness.

If there is any doubt about the power of awareness, we need just think about how the world has changed for survivors of sexual assault in the past year. Just one year ago, who could have imagined the beginnings of change we are witnessing in our cultural tolerance for sexual assault?

We are aware, as never before, of the prevalence and impact of sexual violation.

And while there is certainly discomfort in confronting the reality of adults who have been violated or harassed sexually, there is even greater discomfort in considering the reality of a child who has been sexually violated, most often over the course of months or even years. The shame, confusion, and self-blame that a child experiences in the wake of sexual abuse drive any impulse to speak up far away in to the recesses of obscurity.

Sadly, because survivors (child and adult) are so adept at hiding their shame, we, as a culture, are only too happy to comply with their desire to remain in the shadows. And as long as the secret is safe, the journey to healing remains hidden. Far too many adults, sexually abused as children, quietly bear the scars of their abuse, waiting long decades, or an entire lifetime to reach out for help.

And this is exactly why awareness matters. As awareness increases, the stigma of sexual abuse recedes. As the stigma decreases, adult survivors become empowered to speak their truth. As there is more cultural awareness and understanding, the pathway to healing widens for adults who have been shamed into silence because of actions that were far beyond their control.

And so, it is up to us – you and me – to not only become aware, but to also use our voices to advocate for changes to be made to keep children safe and to support healing for child and adult survivors. To remain silent is to be complicit. By disrupting the silence, we create safety.

We invite you to join us in our awareness activities for National Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April and every month throughout the year. Together, we can create deep and lasting change that will empower all those affected by sexual violence to speak their truth and find healing.

Author

Janice Palm, MA, LMHC

As awareness increases, the stigma of sexual abuse recedes. As the stigma decreases, adult survivors become empowered to speak their truth.

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