April is sexual assault awareness month. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Sexual assault can range from harassment to direct physical sexual abuse. Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault. There are many different ways that you can step in or make a difference if you see someone at risk. The key to keeping others safe is learning how to intervene in a way that fits the situation and your comfort level. Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A simple distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that every 9 minutes, a child is a victim of a sexual assault. Be an advocate for children. If something seems off, pay attention to that feeling and look into it further. If a child tells you that someone makes them uncomfortable, even if they can’t tell you anything specific, listen. Be ready to report your concerns to your local Child protective services agency. If you are the parent or have influence over the child’s schedule, always avoid putting the child in a potentially unsafe situation. You have a role in making the world safe for children.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director, Appleseed Community Mental Health Center