Did you know that April is my birthday month? Yep, it is.
Did you know that April is tax month in the USA? Oh joy, it is.
Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? It is.
I hate it. I might want a new birthday month.
I don’t hate sexual assault awareness, honestly, I don’t. What I hate is that we need a whole month devoted to it. But I am grateful that there is a whole month devoted to it. Raising awareness of sexual assault is a worth a whole month and then some. The past 5 years of my life have been devoted to sexual assault awareness.
Those of us who have been touched by the villainous fingers of sexual assault don’t need a month set aside for awareness. We are aware. Excruciatingly, constantly, monotonously aware. Casualties of sexual abuse, most victims would relinquish that awareness willingly for a month of cluelessness. That would be bliss. Not that we could actually forget. Ever. And not that I actually think cluelessness would be a positive position. In fact, I am quite sure it would not be. As a whole I think our society chooses to be far too clueless about sexual assault. But why wouldn’t we be? Sexual assault is scary. It hurts and thinking about it might damage our precious innocence. An innocence that we fight like mad to protect but then bombard ourselves with assaulting sexual images on a regular basis while burying our heads in the sand. It isn’t innocence we’re really protecting, it is our fear. Clinging to cluelessness in an attempt to protect our fear does nothing more than to invite the very thing we fear to find a place to hide. It is from that camouflaged position of honor that sexual abuse can then control us. Contrary to what we all want to believe, none of us are immune.
It is not from atop a soap box that I spout these societal critiques but rather from the trenches. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. Two of my daughters are survivors of sexual assault. Some people think I shouldn’t admit these things at least not in so public a place. There is no shame in surviving sexual assault, for me or my daughters so we will not slink about in shadows pretending the fingers of such a vile monster have never touched us. Pretending that sexual abuse is not the problem it is provides acceptance, even a warm environment in which sexual abuse will thrive. I will proudly and loudly stand and say what some are afraid to, shinning light on the truth. Sexual abuse is alive and well and destroying, maiming lives. Lives of people all around you. Maybe yours. Busting apart the silent barricade of deceit and lies, I will do what I can do help remove the blinders of willful ignorance that feeds such abuse. Sexual assault parades around cloaked in the shame of others. Refuse to be clueless. Refuse to be silent. Refuse to shame the abused. Refuse to cling to fear.
Did you know:
- 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18. (1)
- 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. (1)
- 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet. (2,3)
- Children who are abused are over 50% more likely to be arrested as juveniles. (4)
- Children who are abused are 30% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime as an adult. (4)
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under. (5)
- An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today. (6)
- 95% of sexually abused children are abused by a family member or someone they know and trust. (7)
- Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know. (8,9)
- The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old. (10)
- More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8. (10)
- Over 30% of victims never disclose the experience to ANYONE. (11)
- More than 75% of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused. (12,13,14,15)
- Nearly 50% of women in prison state that they were abused as children. (11)
Throughout the rest of the month of April I will be making more posts regarding this topic. It is an important one to me, one that has helped shape me. In the face of those statistics you may be at a little bit of a loss as to what you can do. Reading that list is the first step, trust me. Sharing about Sexual Abuse Awareness Month is another, small but strong, step. I will be sharing some of the lessons we have learned along the way and what we choose to do. We are continually on the healing road and God has done a lot in our lives already. It is to that end that I speak. I know we can't completely eradicate sexual abuse but hopefully we can lower the occurrence and walk with those that have suffered.