By Guest Editorial Teresa Clyne
Programs for Peaceful Living 

Checking consent can help prevent devastating assault

 

April 10, 2019



Programs for Peaceful Living would like to remind everyone that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says, “Sexual Assault Awareness month is about more than awareness—the ultimate goal is prevention. Since consent is a clear, concrete example of what it takes to end sexual harassment, abuse, and assault it only makes sense that this year’s theme center on empowering all of us to put consent into practice. The campaign champions the power of asking—whether it be asking to hold someone’s hand, or for permission to share personal information with others, or if a partner is interested in sex. I ASK is the statement by which individuals will demonstrate that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions. I ASK is the statement by which we will uplift the importance of consent and transform it from being prescriptive to empowering.

The goal is to empower everyone to put consent into practice. We can do it by sharing the message in our communities and online (in our email and text communications and social media). Demonstrate the importance of consent by setting an example for your partner, friends, children and other loved ones.


Sexual Assault is a serious and widespread problem. Nearly one in five women in the US have experienced rape or attempted rape at some time in their lives, and one in 67 American men have experienced rape or attempted rape. One in two women and 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime. Over 67% of instances of rape are estimated to go unreported. Sexual violence thrives when it is not taken seriously and victim blaming goes unchecked.

Prevention means stopping sexual violence before it even has a chance to happen. This means changing the social norms that allow it to exist in the first place. This means it has to come from changing individual attitudes, values, and behavior to laws, institutions, and widespread social norms.

Prevention is everyone’s responsibility: All of us can create and promote safe environments. We can intervene to stop concerning behavior; promote and model healthy attitudes and relationships; and believe survivors and assist them in finding resources.

Asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions. Consent is about always choosing to respect the personal and emotional boundaries of others. It’s important for individuals to think about how their actions might make others feel and ask questions if they don’t know.


When an individual wants to get close to someone, it’s important to know how to ask for consent.

All of us can practice consent in our lives by asking permission before assuming and showing respect for other’s choices. It’s important that everyone is on the same page and the best way to do that is by being direct and asking. A good example is to say, “I hope you know you can tell me how you are really feeling, saying ‘no’ is always ok.”

Teach consent to your children early. Late childhood and early adolescence is a time when children get messages about relationships and consent from what shows they watch on TV and movies and their friends. Talking with your child now will encourage open and honest communication. Teach respect for boundaries and teach how to ask for consent. Then above all, put it into practice yourself. Your words and actions are the best model for your children, and use teachable moments to talk about consent and respect. Be conscious of what you say and how you respond to situations when you are upset. Be aware of your surroundings and who is in it. Walk away from potential upsetting situations before you blow your top.

For more information on what consent looks like go to http://www.nsvrc.org/saam

Please join Programs for Peaceful Living by wearing Teal colors every Tuesday for the month of April to your support for victims and survivors of Sexual Violence. Center Place Market Fresh bakery is frosting in Teal on Tuesday’s for the month of April. The Goldendale Programs for Peaceful Living’s 8 week Sexual Assault Survivor Support (SASS) group in support of women will start April 24. If you are interested in attending please call our office for more details.

Feel free to contact Programs for Peaceful Living for more information on the SAAM campaign or come in to pick up a teal ribbon. You can reach the Goldendale office at 773-6100 or the Bingen office at (509) 493-2662. Office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Fridays by appointment. If you are in crisis, contact the 24/7 toll free crisis number at (844) 493-1709 and an advocate will be available to assist you.

 

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