7 Ways To Support Sexual Assault Survivors In The Wake Of Trump's Win
It's been over a week since Donald Trump became our president-elect. Since then, many sexual assault survivors have expressed their fears and concerns about what it might mean to have someone like Trump be in charge of the nation. The good news is that there are many ways to support survivors of sexual assault right now. At this time, it's important for all of us to band together and show solidarity with one another.
One of the many reasons why I think Trump's win is so appalling isn't just that he symbolizes white male privilege. He also normalizes rape culture and sexism with the countless offensive remarks about women he's made over the past several months (and, indeed, years) — from a New York Magazine interview in 1992 where he said "you have to treat 'em like s--t" to the recently uncovered 2005 hot mic tape of him bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent. What's more, several women have made allegations of sexual violence against Trump, citing incidents as far back as a decade ago or more. All of this goes to suggest that Trump's misogyny isn't new.
It may feel as though that Trump's win sends the harmful and inaccurate message that the voices of people who have experienced sexual violence don't matter or that their stories aren't important — but nothing could be further from the truth. Here are seven ways to show your support for survivors of sexual violence:
1. Listen To Survivors
It's hard to even begin to imagine what the aftermath of this election has been like for sexual assault survivors, but a great way to lend support is by listening to their stories. Whether it's going to a spoken word poetry performance or simply being there for a friend, listening is a powerful action that lets people know you genuinely care about their individual experiences.
2. Attend A Consent Workshop
Even if you think you already know what consent means and how to interpret consent, just being around people who openly talk about sexual consent openly will make you feel increasingly comfortable as well. There are a lot of different narratives around the topic of consent, so there's a high chance you might learn something new about what's considered OK and not OK.
3. Be Sensitive
Trigger warnings exist for a reason. Sexual violence can be traumatizing for a survivor, even months after it actually happened. Practice avoiding harmful language like "whore" and "you know you want it," and understand why those phrases are harmful. Understand that people respond in different ways to sexual violence, and not every reaction will be the same (in fact, most of them probably won't be). Realize that even saying the word "rape" can bring back painful memories for survivors.
If you feel passionate about working with a community of sexual assault survivors and allies, volunteer with a related organization like the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) or your local rape crisis center. Unable to commit to a fixed set of volunteer hours every week? Use your free time to share sexual violence hotlines on social media or spend vacation hosting fundraisers for anti-sexual violence organizations.
Even if you're unable to volunteer, donating is also a great option for providing concrete support. Consider giving to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence to help fund research on sexual violence, or End Rape on Campus to directly help sexual assault survivors.
6. Educate Yourself
Want to learn more about sexual assault first? There are tons of resources and teaching tools online that educate people on little-known sexual violence statistics and what to do after an assault or how to react if a friend who's been sexually assaulted reaches out for help.
For those of you who are looking for books on the matter, pick up a copy of We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out. A friend of mine, Andrea Pino, co-authored the book, in which college students share their personal experiences with sexual violence, trauma, and healing.
7. Become Familiar With Title IX
Chances are that you've probably heard of Title IX in past conversations over the last few years, but do you really know what it is? Title IX is part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Title IX has been crucial to many legal battles at college campuses across the nation, as it requires universities that receive federal funding to actively provide support to survivors and prevent sexual violence in the future.
It's important now more than ever to remind our brothers and sisters that they are not alone. We need to work together to hold society accountable and to teach others that sexual assault is never OK.
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