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Here’s why it’s Hard to Discuss Sexual Assault

Trigger warning: talks of sexual assault and abuse.

April 2020 is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The common definition of sexual assault in law terms is any crime in which the offender subjects the victim to sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive. In our attempt to address and write a story about sexual assault, we found ourselves in a difficult situation. Truth is, it is a tough topic to discuss. Nowadays, society talks about it more than before but it is still a taboo. While talking it out, we came up with a few key points as to why addressing sexual assault as a topic is hard yet very important – especially during this year’s awareness month.

Sexual assault or abuse is a modern topic.

Cases of sexual assault have unfortunately been a part of society for as long as anyone could remember. However, it wasn’t until around the 1940s and 50s with the civil rights movement that people started to address it by name. One would think that talking about it would be more frequent within our conversations but is still often frowned upon. It wasn’t until 2001 when the United States recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is important to recognize that the only way in which we can eliminate the chances of the uncomfortable feeling of talking about it lasting for another twenty years, we have to be open to the conversation.

It is a delicate topic.

Sexual assault can change someone’s life forever and the lives of those we care about. As humans, we like consistency and therefore, we are afraid of change. Sexual abuse in all forms can potentially turn our entire world upside down. This is perhaps the biggest concern when discussing sexual abuse: feeling as if we are going to lose or trigger someone within our social group. This is why we also have to be careful with our choice of words when discussing delicate topics like this. There are plenty of resources online provided by professionals who work with sexual assault cases that one could look into. There are also similar organizations that provide resources for people who are recovering from sexual assault themselves.

I Don’t know how to help.

The feeling of helplessness is very common within our generation. We feel that if we can’t do anything to help them, then it is better to not talk about it. However, one thing that our generation has become great at, is reducing the stigma around mental health. Just listening or making someone feel comfortable enough to talk about their experiences is helpful. By creating a safe zone within our community, we could be more supportive than what we think. In addition to that, we can be more aware of warning signs and be the ones to start the conversation conscientiously.

Social media has been used as a great resource for sharing stories and showing support. For many survivors, it has been a way to talk about their own experiences anonymously – if they wish to do so. However, even when talking on social media, it is important to know how to talk about sexual assault online. Here is a TED Talk that can help you with that.

Article by Lissi Nunez and Monse Dominguez

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