In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

By • Published: April 7th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about eleven percent of women and two percent of men in the U.S. have been victims of rape. And the consequences if this crime can last far beyond the actual incident. These people are more likely to struggle with depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts than those who aren’t victims.

In an effort to decrease those numbers, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network offers important suggestions to help people stay safe.

First, avoid dangerous situations. Stay out of isolated areas and don’t spend time alone with strangers or people you don’t trust. When walking or running by yourself, stay alert: Skip the headphones and music so you can hear what’s happening around you.

Listen to your intuition. If a situation seems risky, leave. Always have a working cell phone and money with you to call a cab if needed.

Stick with friends at parties and bars, and keep an eye out for one another. Don’t make it easy for a perpetrator to slip something into your drink. Get your own beverages, or accept them only from friends you trust. Keep a close watch on your glass, and call 9-1-1 if you think someone has been drugged.

Sexual assault prevention isn’t just for adults. Parents should educate their children about sex, body parts and the importance of privacy. Help them understand the difference between touching that’s OK, and touching that isn’t. Get to know adults and older kids who interact with your children, including teachers, coaches, neighbors and church leaders.

Most importantly, keep an open dialogue with your kids about these issues, and model wise behavior for them to follow. Sexual assault prevention should be a family priority.