Thursday, April 5, 2007

Blog Against Sexual Violence: Awareness

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This post is in support of Blog Against Sexual Violence Day sponsored by abyss2hope.

Sexual abuse and violence thrives in a climate of silence and unawareness. Perpetrators are emboldened when a community is not forthcoming that sexual abuse and violence are crimes that the community takes seriously and prosecutes. Victimization is perpetuated in a culture where power, and the lack thereof, have been arbitrarily assigned and culturally ingrained as a norm.

These cultural climates persist where sexual violence and abuse are not recognized for what they are: a violation of another's personhood using the context of a sexual encounter and not a sexual encounter that has gotten out of hand. Too often sexual abusers and violators are "excused" or unrecognized when the incidents are declared to being misunderstandings about the acceptable degrees of intimacy; but sexual violence and abuse is never about intimacy.

Sexual violence and abuse is about power and control. It is about the perpetrator's drive to have absolute power and control over another human being whether that person is female or male, young or old, or even if they are handicapped. Who the victim is is not what matters but rather whether she or he is perceived as accessible.

If the occurrence of sexual violence and abuse are to be curbed, then the first key has to be increased awareness. If people do not recognize what it is, that it occurs in their community, and the climate that perpetuates it, then it is hard for them to see that they can and should acquire the information, power and tools to make themselves less accessible, and to protect and defend themselves and others before, during and after an assault. So, even though it may initially shake your faith about living in a so-called "safe" neighborhood, check out how your community defines and deals with sexual violence and abuse, and the resources for community education; it's a first step toward ending sexual violence and abuse which will help build truly safe neighborhoods.

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