April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about sexual assault, educate ourselves on how to prevent sexual violence, and share support for survivors.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it is estimated that one in three girls is sexually abused in North America. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network estimates that every 73 seconds another American is sexually assaulted and 66 percent of victims of sexual assault and rape are aged 12-17.
If you identify as a survivor of sexual assault, we at EmpowHERto stand with you and want to acknowledge it is never, in ANY circumstance (whether you were able to take every precaution or not), your fault.
Sexual violence can happen anywhere, to anyone. These days, many of us are learning, working, and hanging with friends online. In honour of SAAM, EmpowHERto has researched five precautions to take when spending time online:
- Do not give out your personal information online, such as your home address, school, or workplace.
- Place a (cute!) sticker over your computer’s camera. You can easily remove it for video calling with your friends, and the rest of the time you will be protected.
- Try Googling your name. What comes up? Remember: whatever you post is permanent. Even if you delete a post, it can be saved and reposted by someone else.
- Do not send sexts or intimate photos or videos, even to people you trust—it is impossible to know whether the receiver will share or forward it without your permission. And if you receive an unwanted sext, picture, or video, do not forward it. Instead, delete it, report the image (if it is online), tell the person to stop, and block their number.
- When we are feeling stressed or anxious, it is easier to neglect our personal safety and self-care. Give yourself limitations on where and how often you spend time online.
If you or someone you know is a survivor, below are free resources that may be helpful. If you are in danger now, call 911 or your local police station.
- Kids Help Phone provides professional and confidential phone, online, and text-based support (in English and French) 24/7 to youth across Canada: https://kidshelpphone.ca
- Here To Help provides information on mental health and substance use, how to be a support to yourself or someone else, and connects people to further resources in British Columbia: https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides information and resources in preventing and responding to sexual violence: https://www.nsvrc.org
- RAINN provides a professional and confidential online chat and National Sexual Assault Hotline 24/7. They are America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, working to improve public policy and provide education, consulting, and training: https://www.rainn.org
- loveisrespect offers support and information to young people to help them end and prevent abusive relationships: https://www.loveisrespect.org
Founded in 2015, EmpowHERto is a Toronto-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping 14-21 year-old women and girls reach their fullest potential.
EmpowHERto is as strong as the community that holds it up. Together, we can do more than we can do alone. Let’s bring our abilities and passions together to affect real change.