Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a campaign to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate people how to prevent it. The campaign theme for 2019, I Ask, champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary.
When it comes to sexual activity and sex, you have the right to decide when you do it, where you do it, and how you do it. For any sexual activity to happen, both people need to consent, or say yes, willingly and freely. Sexual activity does not just mean sex, it includes kissing, hugging, making out, cuddling, and touching someone’s body in a sexual way. Sexual assault is when there is unwanted sexual contact or sexual attention, this includes coercion and harassment.
So, how do you know if someone wants to make out or have sex? You have to ask! For example, if you want to touch someone’s bum, you could say something like, “Is it okay if I touch your bum?” and if they say “YES!” it’s bum touching time. If they aren’t sure or don’t say anything that means the answer is no. In other words, anything other than yes, means no.
Help is out there
If you have ever dealt with or are dealing with sexual assault it is never your fault and it can be important to talk to someone. The Klinic Sexual Assault Crisis Line is a great resource that people can call if they need to talk. It is open 24/7 and free to call from anywhere in Manitoba. Their phone number is 1-888-292-7565 or (204) 786-8631.
Klinic also offers free drop-in counselling within Winnipeg. Teen Clinics and local health centres offer counselling services too. Kanikanichihk offers the Heart Medicine Lodge a culturally-based support and advocacy services for Indigenous women who have experienced sexual assault and sexual violence. Available to all who identify as women and are over the age of 18.
Ending Sexual Violence
This April, we’re calling on all people to play a role in changing the culture. We can all use our voices to change the culture to prevent sexual violence. Prevention means addressing the roots causes and social norms that allow sexual violence to exist.
- Use consent with all sexual activities. Ask, listen and respect your partner and remember, only yes means yes.
- Talk with friends when they say inappropriate things, even when it’s ‘just a joke.’
- Think critically about how the media portrays sexual violence. Ask yourself is it exploring a deeper conversation about the root causes and effects of sexual assault or is it normalizing it as entertainment?
- Organize or join a group that speaks out against sexual violence.
- Go to marches like Take Back the Night.
- Men, take a stand against all forms of violence against women. While sexual assault effects all genders, we also know that women are 92% of police reported assaults. Get involved in groups like the White Ribbon and speak up.