Indianapolis (March 28, 2018)— April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The theme for this 17th year of SAAM is “Embrace Your Voice.”
The theme Embrace Your Voice is based on the premise that sexual violence thrives when it’s not taken seriously and victim blaming goes unchecked. For example, rape is the most under-reported crime. More than 65% of rapes are not reported to police. Words can shape culture. How we talk about sexual violence matters. So, throughout April, SAAM encourages use of one’s voice to prevent sexual violence.
In recognition of SAAM, Families First invites the public to its open-mic spoken word event, WON'T KEEP QUIET. Members of the community can use their voice at this event to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault and the impact on our community.
Location: Coal Yard Coffee in Irvington, 5547 Bonna Ave, Indianapolis
Date: Friday, April 27, 2018
Time: 7-10 pm (Sign-up to speak, read poetry, sing, etc. at 6:30)
Attendance is free. Donations (toiletries, gift cards for essential items, non-perishable snacks, and monetary donations) will be accepted for Families First 24-hour response to sexual assault survivors. The services are provided by Families First Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) which provides information, advocacy, case management, counseling, support groups, community education, and trauma-informed training.
Creating a culture of respect, equality, and safety starts with having a role to play in prevention and changing the culture. Individuals can embrace their voices to show their support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children.
In addition to the spoken word event, Families First is sponsoring an art display throughout the month of April on the fourth floor of the Indianapolis Public Library – Central Library. Created by Families First victims advocate Whitney Guthrie, the display will feature a view of the ocean – with positive words of affirmation in the foreground, and negative, victim blaming phrases in the background. Library visitors can also find a resource cart on the first floor with books and information, as well as local resources.
Prevention is possible, and it’s happening. Several pieces of legislation were enacted by the Indiana General Assembly this year:
• HB 1191 Requires a licensed health practitioner to provide information concerning available resources and services to a patient who is a suspected victim of human trafficking.
• HB 1270 Changes the human and sexual trafficking statute by defining terms and urges the council to assign a committee to study the topic of human trafficking in Indiana.
• SB 264 Requires the statewide sexual assault response team advisory council to prepare a report to the legislative council by the end of the year on a rape test kit data base, identify a supervising authority, and recommend possible funding sources.
With the country focused on this very important issue, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to improve understanding and change behaviors. The phrases, ‘Believe Survivors,’ ‘Challenge Victim Blaming,’ and ‘Respect Boundaries’ will be a focus of the Embrace Your Voice campaign.