Domestic violence and sexual assault are two very serious problems that impact far too many individuals in this country. It's time we all started speaking out about them. Only then can we begin to make a real difference.
The statistics surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault are staggering. In the United States, it is estimated that one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence during her lifetime. And, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. The statistics for men victimized by sexual assault and domestic violence are also disturbingly high, with one in six men being sexually assaulted during their lifetimes.
What can be done to help put an end to these epidemic levels of violence? For starters, we need to start talking about it. Too often, these types of crimes are seen as private matters that should be kept within the family or between intimate partners. But the fact is, domestic violence and sexual assault affect us all.
Those numbers are shocking enough. But what's even more alarming is that those numbers only scratch the surface of the problem. Many individuals never report their assault or experience of domestic violence. For various reasons—fear, shame, embarrassment, etc.—these individuals suffer in silence.
This needs to change!
It's important for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to speak out. By doing so, they can help break the silence that surrounds these issues and bring much-needed attention to the problem. In addition, speaking out can also help empower other survivors to come forward and get the help they need.
Why We Need to Talk About Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
It's important that we talk about domestic violence and sexual assault because silence only perpetuates the problem. When victims don't speak out, their attackers feel empowered to continue their cycle of abuse. In fact, many abusers will threaten their victims with further violence if they ever tell anyone about what's happening. This silence only serves to protect the abuser and keep the victim trapped.
In addition, by not talking about these issues, we send the message that they are taboo and should be hidden away. This only makes it harder for victims to come forward and get the help they need. It's time to break the silence and start talking about domestic violence and sexual assault. Only then can we begin to make a real difference.
We all need to do our part too
If you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, there are things you can do to help. First, believe them. It's not easy for someone to come forward and talk about their experience, so believe them and let them know that you're there for them. Second, offer your support. Let them know that you're there for them and offer to help in any way you can. Finally, encourage them to get help from a professional. There are many organizations that can help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, so encourage them to reach out for help.
Talking about these issues also helps to remove the stigma attached to them. Too often, victims feel like they are to blame for what has happened to them or like they should have been able to prevent it. But that's not the case. No one deserves to be a victim of violence or abuse—period.
How You Can Help
There are many ways you can help end domestic violence and sexual assault. Here are just a few:
Educate yourself and others about these issues. The more we know about domestic violence and sexual assault, the better equipped we'll be to prevent them.
Encourage victims to speak out. If you know someone who has been a victim of these crimes, encourage them to come forward and get help.
Support organizations that work to end domestic violence and sexual assault. There are many great organizations out there doing important work to help victims and prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. Show your support by donating your time or money to one of these organizations.
Speak up when you see or hear something that isn't right. If you see or hear something that makes you uncomfortable, say something. It's up to all of us to create a safe and respectful world for everyone.
Ending domestic violence and sexual assault will take time, but it's important work. By talking about these issues and supporting survivors, we can make a difference.
Together, we can create a world where everyone is safe and respected.