#ITSNOTOK: Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2019
Last week saw the third annual #itsnotok week, created to raise awareness about all forms of sexual violence – alongside the message that it’s simply unacceptable. From the 4th to the 10th February, survivors and organisations made noise about the reality of sexual violence, from busting commonly-held myths to boosting ways we can all support survivors.
Here’s what we had to say last week:
#ITSNOTOK Reading List:
- #ITSNOTOK that women should have to run in groups to avoid sexual harassment! Primary prevention campaigns are more effective when aimed at challenging perpetrators behaviour & the attitudes & norms which support sexual violence!
- #ITSNOTOK that these men have been allowed to leave and there has been no interrogation of the cultures at Warwick University that have facilitated this behaviour.
- #ITSNOTOK for men to co-opt a woman’s trauma or use it as a justification for their own racism and prejudice.
- #ITSNOTOK that sexual harassment is not taken seriously as violence. Sexual harassment is violence. It is abuse. It is a direct and deliberate intrusion into someone’s bodily autonomy. It is the continuous and relentless invasion into our public spaces.
- #ITSNOTOK that the high level of sexual violence at UK festivals goes unchallenged.
- #ITSNOTOK that a huge number of people across the UK do not understand consent. Having space to explore and challenge sexual violence myths, both within ourselves and others, is a crucial part of supporting survivors, holding those who perpetrate accountable for their actions and working towards preventing sexual violence in future generations.
- #ITSNOTOK that police are taking survivors phones and electronic data as a matter of course. The criminal justice system can be confusing and complex, and the issue of disclosure adds another indecipherable barrier for survivors who have reported to the police, or who are thinking about it.
- #ITSNOTOK that not everybody has access to free, safe and legal abortion.
- #ITSNOTOK that self-care has been co-opted by capitalism, making it increasingly difficult to connect with what we actually need.
How we can all support survivors:
We know that a lot of the messages around sexual violence can feel overwhelming. We thought we’d end the week by thinking about what we can all do to support survivors of sexual violence and push for much-needed change.
1 in 5 women in England & Wales have survived some form of sexual violence. Marginalised groups, such as women of colour, disabled women and LGBTQ+ people, experience sexual violence at much higher rates. This means it’s almost certain that someone in your life is a survivor.
When someone tells you that they were abused, you need to be aware that doing this is an enormous step for them. It means that they are trusting you to hold this information and it is important to offer your wholehearted support without taking over. Survivors will be familiar with feelings of powerlessness and they need to feel in control now.
Survivors will need you:
👂 to listen
💞 to believe
🌳 to help them understand it was not their fault
🌻 to validate their feelings
🗺 to respect whatever they need going forward
Supporting survivors means:
❌ never blaming them
❌ never doubting what they are telling you
❌ never centering yourself and your feelings
❌ never assuming you know what’s best for them
❌ never pushing them to tell anyone if they don’t want to
There are other things you can do to support ending sexual violence in all its forms!
🗣 Call people out! Hold those around you accountable for their language & their harmful behaviour
💰 Donate your money, if you’re able
⏲ Donate your time and skills!
⬆ Boost campaigns
Survivors might not be ready to talk about what happened, but if they ask you to look for support services there is:
- the National Rape Crisis Helpline open every day from 12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm on 0808 802 9999
- the Rape Crisis England & Wales website
There’s incredible work being done by so many people to end violence and support survivors. Follow them, support them!