April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an opportunity to learn more about this important issue and understand how you may be able to play a role in reducing or even preventing incidents of this crime in your workplace and community. Studies show that approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been the victims of rape, with an estimated eight percent occurring during work. This is a serious issue that has repercussions for the victims, their families and friends, and the communities in which they live – in other words, sexual assault impacts everyone.
However, there are a number of steps you can take to contribute toward a safer environment and help prevent incidents of sexual assault. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center suggests:
- Be a good role model. By being respectful of those around you, demonstrating a healthy attitude and discouraging behaviors that can be considered sexist or racist, you can help create an environment that discourages sexual harassment and assault. Encourage your colleagues to do the same.
- Raise awareness of the issue. Work with your employer to ensure everyone understands the seriousness of this issue, as well as promote policies that foster a safe and respectful environment. If your employer offers an EAP, they may have training available to help.
- Support survivors. Too many people have been directly affected by sexual assault. Show support for survivors by listening to them and connecting them with resources that can help.
- See something, say something. Prevention is key, and those who may witness something suspicious can play a key role in stopping a crime before it happens. If you see or hear something and feel safe stepping forward, interject to help protect the victim. Otherwise, report the incident to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Bystander intervention makes a difference.
Please note that this post only skims the surface of this critical issue. To learn more about the impact of sexual assault and how you can make a difference, visit any of the resources below:
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- American Association of University Women
- Workplaces Respond to Domestic & Sexual Violence
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to EAP+Work/Life, you may have the opportunity to schedule a training session in your workplace to raise awareness of this important issue. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual harassment or assault, a Licensed Professional Counselor can also help connect you with support and resources.