Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

*Trigger Warning*

I've had a lot of people asking why I chose to make the YWCA 5K my first large goal for fundraiser. This 5K is April 18th, smack in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). A lot of people, notice I say people as in humans as in non-gender/age/race specific, pass over this month and these statistics without a second look.

The SAAM 2015 campaign is centered around preventing sexual violence on campus. In the United States, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men have been raped in their lifetime.  Approximately 1 in 15 men have been made to penetrate a perpetrator in their lifetime. Most victims first experienced sexual violence before age 25 and 1 in 5 college students experiences sexual assault during their college career.

At a pivotal time in peoples' lives - where they're becoming adults, learning new life skills, growing into who they are - they're also being ripped of their feelings of security and safety and losing trust in humanity. The ACLU estimates that 95% of US campus rapes go unreported.  Approximately two out of three sexual assaults are committed by an attackers that the victim knows. About 38% of rapes are committed by a friend or acquaintance of the victim. The most likely location of a rape or sexual assault in in the homes of the victim or the perpetrator - a place the victim once felt safe. These victims are blamed or shamed; told they deserve it or they could have done something to prevent it.

There's a great campaign going on this month that I just found out about today and FULLY plan on supporting. It's called Red My Lips. I heard about it from this Bustle article HERE. The idea behind this campaign is that nothing, absolutely nothing, gives anyone the right or a "valid excuse" for sexual assault. Red lipstick, short skirt, high heels, tight tee shirt that shows off your muscles, or your booty shorts that show off your ass - no clothing gives permission. Drinking, passing out, being in a club or a bar or at a party - these are not invitations for sexual activity.

I believe that the people in my life know the facts about this cause. I believe that if anything ever happened to them, they would come to me. I also believe that not everyone has a person they could go to. And that's where the YWCA comes in. They provide support for all people who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking of any kind. Between 1998 and 2010 alone, Oklahoma lost 1,059 victims to domestic violence. There are more than 32 million victims annually. Up to 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children. Male children who witness the abuse of their mothers by fathers are 50% more likely to become men who batter in adulthood. That's a lot of people who could use our help.

They have hospital advocates who are on-call 24-hours per day to provide emotional support, advocacy and crisis counseling to sexual assault survivors at hospital, police stations and throughout the legal system. They also have a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program. These nurses offer a unique contribution to forensic investigators by providing a comprehensive, objective physical examination for victims of sexual assault. The collaborative efforts of the all the agencies involved in the program ensure the evidence is collected without re-traumatizing the victims. They provide housing for victims and their children. It's an emergency shelter, providing help in obtaining legal services, transportation, housing information, medical care, child care and advocacy services for up to two months. They have transitional housing for victims of family violence. Participants have up to two years to obtain the education and job skills training needed to begin a new life. They also provide a wide array of crisis services to help victims rebuild and heal.

And for these reasons and so many many more, I support the YWCA in Oklahoma City. This is why I'm training and raising money for their 5K. There are still 17 days left til the race and if you'd like to support my run personally, you can do so HERE.

Until Next Time,
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