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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Prevent and understand sexual violence

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows nearly one in five women and one in 38 men in the United States experience rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives.

Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health's SOS Sexual Violence Services provides free, 24-hour crisis services to victims of sexual violence, their friends and family.

24/7 crisis line

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SOS continues to be available 24/7 by phone at 651-266-1000. All face-to-face services have been replaced by phone services and precautions are being taken to ensure client safety. 

Prevent and understand sexual violence

Due to the pandemic, this year we recognize Sexual Assault Awareness/Prevention Month in a different way. In place of community events to bring awareness to this topic, please read and share the following resources on how to prevent and understand sexual violence. 

"My" space - Mutual respect for boundaries in virtual spaces

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our virtual interactions with others have increased significantly.

"Things are different. We’re adjusting. At least trying to. During these challenging and unique times, we are hearing, reading and seeing how we can protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. In the midst of that, we can’t overlook the need to hear, read and see how we can prevent sexual violence, even in virtual spaces. Whether we are alone or in shared spaces, we have an opportunity to practice and instill important reminders about autonomy and boundaries. Your space is just that, your space – whether physically or virtually." - Alla, SOS Sexual Violence Services prevention coordinator

Below are some tips on having mutual respect for boundaries in virtual spaces:

  • If you’re thinking of sending someone explicit material, stop and ask yourself if you’ve asked for their consent. Proceed in asking for their consent and respect their choices.
  • If you’re thinking of taking a screenshot of an intimate conversation between you and someone, stop yourself and ask the other party if they’re okay with what you’re doing. Respect their choices.
  • Do not direct message (DM) strangers graphic images of yourself or others – just don’t.
  • If someone is saying offensive, derogatory, threatening things, report them on that platform. Most if not all social media platforms provide their users with the option of reporting harmful things. Each platform is different but they do take action, whether giving you the option of blocking that individual or suspending their account.

Consent is key, in any and all places and platforms. Virtual spaces are not an invitation for people to overstep their boundaries, to share material without your consent, and to make you uncomfortable. Creating spaces where people are respectful of each other is the goal – and it starts with putting people in their place – and respecting your space.

 

Posted on Friday, April 24, 2020 - 10:44 a.m.