April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and CONNSACS is joining anti-sexual violence organizations throughout the country in raising public awareness about sexual violence and educating communities and individuals about sexual violence prevention. The 2013 National SAAM campaign, “It’s Time to Talk about It” focuses on healthy sexuality and child sexual abuse prevention.
Child sexual abuse thrives in silence. When healthy, caring adults do not educate children about body parts, appropriate touch, and healthy sexuality, that education is left to abusers. By starting conversations about age-appropriate behaviors, healthy boundaries, and respectful relationships, adults open lines of communication and let children know that it is safe to have conversations about what happens to their bodies. It helps children understand that it is okay to talk about situations that feel uncomfortable and to reach out for help when they have been hurt. Offenders often tell a child that the child will be in trouble is he or she says anything about the “secret” abuse that is occurring. Children need to understand that this is a lie and that it is okay to confide in an adult when they feel uncomfortable.
Adults can also help prevent child sexual abuse through their own words and actions. They can show respect to children, model healthy behaviors and boundaries, and confront other adults when they act inappropriately. When adults are willing to have conversations with children about healthy sexuality and abuse, and when they model good behaviors, they are training the next generation to create a culture in which sexual violence will not be tolerated.
Sexual Assault Crisis Services programs throughout Connecticut will be holding awareness events and activities throughout the month of April. Attend one of the great events going on in your area, and join the conversation. We can end sexual violence, but we have to “talk about it.”