The month of May is Sexual Violence Awareness month. The best thing you can do to support a friend who has been sexually abused is to listen and believe them. Ask them what they need, support them in seeking out services of their choice and continue to support after the initial crises. They need you. This is the advice on the Twitter page of the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre.
For those who believe sexual assault is a thing of the past, a friend who just migrated to Canada confided in me that an elder at a church she attends tried to force himself upon her. It happened so quickly at the church office which was deserted at that time. She did not see it coming.
We all need to be aware that it is the people closest to us that may try to assault us sexually.
Here is a statement from the Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Minister Leela Aheer on Sexual Violence Awareness Month:
“Sexual abuse affects every single person. It’s not somebody else’s problem; it’s ours. The protection of vulnerable women and those who have experienced sexual violence is dear to the heart of our Premier, and to mine. We recognize survivors of sexual violence and thank them for their courage in coming forward to share their stories and for their determination to help build a brighter, safer future for all.
“Our friends, our families, our neighbours and our co-workers who have experienced any form of sexual violence or harassment should feel empowered to come forward to share their stories and access supports. We all need to work together to create safe and inclusive communities and wrap our arms around survivors and end the stigma surrounding these traumatic events. This is our collective responsibility.
“We know more work needs to be done and are committed to supporting frontline workers so they can respond effectively to sexual violence and help survivors heal. I want to share my sincere gratitude to all frontline workers in sexual assault centres, women’s shelters and crisis centres across the province.
“We all have a role in preventing and ending sexual violence. During Sexual Violence Awareness Month, and throughout the year, I ask everyone to take action to help survivors and keep Albertans safe. Alberta, let’s show our support by finding opportunities to get involved in our communities, talking to children and youth about healthy relationships and consent, modelling respect and speaking out against sexual violence in all its forms. We must shine bright lights into the dark corners where survivors see a hand reaching out to them. Together, we can build an Alberta that is free of sexual assault and sexual abuse and safe for everyone.”