Ending Sexual Violence Takes All of Us. What Will YOU Do?
Dear Engaged Bystander: I love this campaign by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. The message is simple, positive, and engaging. Ending Sexual Violence Takes All of Us. What will YOU do?
In our advocacy work, we often talk about what not to do. It makes sense that this is our approach when we are trying to stop sexual violence.
But people always respond better to a sense of hope. When we can outline what we CAN do rather than describe what we CAN NOT or SHOULD NOT do. We do need to learn how to talk about what is a healthy relationship, healthy boundaries, or a positive sexual relationship.
I have found that in places where we do open the conversation about what is healthy, it is easier to talk about inappropriate behaviors and we can describe more clearly how to respond to abusive behaviors. Here is just one example. I have had the chance to work with the Unitarian Universalist Association and they developed the first program for faith communities to talk about healthy sexual development in children and youth. It is called Our Whole Lives. They also have developed one of the first policies for congregations facing how to integrate (or when to decide not to integrate) an adolescent with sexual behavior problems or an adult sex offender. This policy is called Balancing Acts.
These are two sides of the same coin. So let's continue to find ways to focus on what we can do and follow this great example by the Washington Coalition.