AVFTI wants to welcome anyone who needs our help. We love talking about what we do and how we can help in any community that needs us. But sometimes, members within our circle just don’t understand why we do what we do. A lot of time we feel as if they don’t “get it”. If you, the reader of this blog, care about the issue of sexual assault or have experienced it yourself, it can be increasingly more painful when people put down what has become an integral part of your life.
But what do you say? How do you change their mind? How do you get them to stop asking you to stifle the things we need to talk about in order to enact change?
There’s no perfect answer. Often times, we are seeing the “ripple effects” of sexual assault as described by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. People may feel personally victimized by what happened to their family members.
I can’t tell you the exact right thing to say. But I can share some statements that have helped others speak on the issue of sexual assault to friends and family members who just don’t “get it”.
“It’s important to me to prevent sexual assault and support anyone who’s been through it.”
By providing a place where people are validated, supported, and allowed to remain anonymous, we are creating an internet based safe space for people who may not be able to find it elsewhere. RAINN reports that only 34% of sexual assault cases are reported to the police. Many find it intimidating or difficult to report and prosecute their sexual assault case. Sometimes, they don’t want to. Sometimes they just want to anonymously report what happened. That’s where we come in. We provide the best empathy we can as a community and a list of resources they can choose to access.
“We are a safe space for people affected by sexual assault, focusing away from perpetrators.”
Many people have asked us if we counsel offenders or offer anything to help people wrongly accused of sexual assault. We focus solely on those who have been hurt by sexual assault and abuse and provide them a nonjudgemental, anonymous forum to discuss what they need to. While we do advocate in places like the music community or counterculture events, we outreach to people who may need our resources or support. Or simply to talk about what happened to them.
Hit them with the facts.
Every two minutes, someone’s world shatters after they are sexually assaulted. In one year, that amounts to 284,000 people aged 12 and older and 61,000 children. This IS an issue affecting so many people and by talking about it, the problem is lessening. Sexual assaults are falling at a substantial rate and many are crediting the people with the courage to speak up.
“The first response is everything.”
Studies show that a person’s first response they receive to telling their story will affect how their future story gets told. It will affect if they ever tell it again and who they decide to disclose to. Stigmas still affect people in our society who disclose their story of sexual assault. The numbers may be dropping, but they aren’t at zero. And we won’t stop until they do.
If you’d like to be a part of what we do, click here.
If you have a story you’d like to tell, click here.