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SAAM 2024 | ​Building Connected Communities

Building Connected Communities helps us reduce the likelihood of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment in our communities. Any space where people come together is a community, whether in neighborhoods, workplaces, campuses, organizations, or even online spaces. We are all a part of a community, often many, even when we may feel disconnected or apart from them.

Community is powerful. Community creates a sense of belonging and reminds us of how our beliefs, choices, and actions impact one another. At the center of Building Connected Communities is ensuring our communities are safe, inclusive, and equitable. Racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and other forms of oppression contribute to higher rates of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. We must address all abuses of power to prevent sexual violence -- in our relationships, communities, and society.

What does it take to Build Connected Communities?

Addressing the social and structural determinants of health, such as education, income, employment, community safety, and social support, is crucial to improving the conditions in which we live, learn, work, and play. In a connected community, we can look out for one another and make choices to promote health, safety, and well-being. Building Connected Communities brings us closer to the goal of health equity. Health equity means that everyone, no matter their situation, has a chance to achieve their best possible health, creating a fair and just opportunity for all to reach their highest level of well-being (PI & NSVRC 2021).

We recognize that how we talk about sexual violence significantly impacts survivors, their families, our communities, and society. We also understand that our voices have power and that when one of us does not feel safe or respected we are all affected. As such, we must strive to create strong, connected communities that take care of one another and make decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of others to end sexual violence.

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any type of unwanted sexual contact — including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.

Forms of sexual violence include:

  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual abuse
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Sexual exploitation and trafficking,
  • Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to others without consent,
  • Nonconsensual image sharing
  • Words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent
  • Sexual violence represents a range of behaviors

Statistics show:

  • Most women and men across all sexual identities who experienced contact sexual violence reported that the person who harmed them was someone they knew (Chen, et al., 2023).
  • Over 53% of women and over 29% of men reported experiencing contact sexual violence (Chen, et al., 2023).
  • 1 in 5 male victims reported only male perpetrators, 1 in 2 had only female perpetrators, and about 1 in 6 had both male and female perpetrators (Chen, et al., 2023).
  • More than 1 and 4 non-Hispanic Black women (29%) in the United States were raped in their lifetime (Basile et al., 2022).
  • 1 in 3 Hispanic women (34.8%) reported unwanted sexual contact in their lifetime (Basile et al., 2022).
  • More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women (84.3%) have experienced violence in their lifetime (Rosay, 2016).
  • 32.9% of adults with intellectual disabilities have experienced sexual violence (Tomsa et al., 2021).
  • 47% of all transgender people have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives (James et al., 2016).

Awareness and Action during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This April, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, learn how to take steps to build connected communities and enhance your knowledge of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. In addition, we invite you to explore how to create safe communities where everyone feels safe and supported. We’re asking you to join us in building connected communities that promote equity and respect, as our connections to one another have an impact more significant than just ourselves. For more information, contact Someplace Safe at 800-974-3359.

Article shared from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center

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