We can trace a line from sexual violence to systems of oppression, and we can’t end sexual violence without also ending racism. Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity calls on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect.
Systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and others contribute to higher rates of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. So often, we are unaware of how historical conditions have shaped our lives and how we move throughout the world, specifically, forms of privilege with the many identities we each hold. As such, we recognize that it will take ending all forms of oppression to end sexual violence worldwide.
Highlighting one of the pressing issues we see impacting not just equity within our movement to end violence but negatively affecting the life, freedom, and dignity of people across the world is anti-Blackness. In addressing prevention, we must take steps to undo the systemic ways anti-Black racism shows up in our communities.
Discussions about racial issues, racism, equity, and inclusion are often avoided due to feeling uncomfortable and risks. Being uncomfortable is okay – but to address the social exclusion, unequal access to resources, disproportionate exposure to harm, and unjust prejudice that people of color face, we must show up with courage and humility. We can help create change if we take the time to hear, understand, and recognize one another.
Drawing connections between ourselves, history, and the world around us is necessary for changing the future.
Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any type of unwanted sexual contact — including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.
Forms of sexual violence include:
- Rape or sexual assault
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual abuse
- Unwanted sexual contact/touching
- Sexual exploitation and trafficking,
- Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to others without consent,
- Nonconsensual image sharing
- Words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent
- Sexual violence represents a range of behaviors
- More than 1 and 4 non-Hispanic Black women (29%) in the United States were raped in their lifetime (Basile et al., 2022).
- More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women (84.3%) have experienced violence in their lifetime (Rosay, 2016).
- 1 in 3 Hispanic women (34.8%) reported unwanted sexual contact in their lifetime (Basile et al., 2022).
- 32.9% of adults with intellectual disabilities have experienced sexual violence (Tomsa et al., 2021).
- 47% of all transgender people have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives (James et al., 2016).
Awareness and Action during Sexual Assault Awareness Month
This April, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, learn how to draw connections between various forms of oppression and the underlying causes of sexual assault. In addition, explore how certain groups of people are at higher risk for sexual violence and how those same people are also the most impacted by inequitable systems and oppression in our society. We’re asking you to join us in building equity and respect within our communities, workplaces, and the future our youth hold – as it is crucial to making real, large-scale, and lasting change.