Locker rooms are no excuse to brag about sexually victimizing women. Period.
This post isn’t meant to be political. I’m not trying to persuade you to vote one way or another. (You can read about the controversy here if you wish to get some background information.)
What I am asking of you is to be an advocate. Not an advocate for a specific person whether that be a presidential candidate or a possible victim. I
asking challenging you to step up and be an advocate for sexual abuse victims everywhere.
And yes, it is a CHALLENGE! Take a look at the sexual assault stats below from the US Department of Justice:
- Approximately 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities.
- According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Criminal Victimization Survey, in 2012, there were 346,830 reported rapes or sexual assaults of persons 12 years or older.
- Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault.
- Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- Someone is sexually assaulted (on average) every two minutes in the United States.
Since only 30% of assault cases are reported, estimates put occurrences of assault at over 1,000,000!
Beyond the statistics, I have seen the emotional devastation caused by sexual abuse and victimization first hand. My very first “official” counseling job was at Whaley Children Center. The kids on my caseload were temporary or permanent wards of the court and more than 90% of them had been sexually abused.
I won’t go into the horrors experienced by these kids, but I will say that I became more resolute in my commitment to be an advocate against abuse with every new kid that was added to my caseload.
There was no other choice for me. The stories I heard were devastating. I could either get lost in despair or I could find strength in knowing that I have a roll helping them move forward…beyond the pain and hurt (even if by only a little bit).
I chose the latter.
As school counselors, we have the ability to make an even bigger impact that what I could do as a clinical therapist. The beauty of being a school counselor is that we have the ability to enact systematic change.
Our actions set the tone for what is acceptable behavior. Whether it be the core message we are teaching in a lesson or the way we respond to an off-hand remark in the lounge…regardless if we are interacting with a student or an adult…we can set the standard.
We can cultivate a climate in our schools where all students are valued. We can foster a sense of trust and safety amongst all of our students.
We can and we must. The price tag is too high to not take action.
Most people see inaction as consent, which is why we can not stand idly by and allow ANYONE to believe that talking about making unwanted sexual advances is okay in any way, shape, form, or context. Period.
I’m not saying we need to spend every waking second devoted to the cause, but we must do something or at the very least -> say something. It can be as simple as saying, “That’s not funny.” and then walking away.
We tell our students about the dangers of being a bystander. The same applies to us.
Helping kids develop healthy relationships is one of the best ways counselors can combat sexual abuse.
Along with promoting healthy relationships, the Center for Disease Control recommends the following:
- Teaching skills to prevent abuse
- Provide opportunities to empower girls and women
- Create protective environments
- Support victims to lessen the long-term harm