Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe & Respected: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Posted by on Apr 8, 2021 | Comments Off on Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe & Respected: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe & Respected:           Sexual Assault Awareness Month

As girls grow and learn to value themselves and become more confident, they are better prepared to recognize harmful treatment by peers, as well as situations in which they don’t feel safe. When girls are encouraged to practice respectful assertive communication with each other, they also learn to expect it in return. Rather than tolerating disparaging comments or unwanted attention, they are empowered to speak out and to seek help from safe adults in their lives.

During April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we’re reminded how Ophelia’s Place fosters safe communities based on mutual respect and consent.

We discuss healthy friendships and partnerships as part of our school presentations and school groups. We support girls in after-school activities and in therapy to talk about how to identify the signs of positive supportive relationships and to encourage clear communication with friends and partners about respect and safety.

Our classroom presentations include educating students about sexual harassment, conflict resolution, healthy relationships, and how to safely and appropriately engage with phones and social media. Doing this work in schools helps students take accountability and responsibility for creating a more positive, respectful school culture.

In our other programs, we have the opportunity to talk with girls openly about their experiences with their peers and family, and their feelings about themselves. We share the same kinds of tools about effective communication and the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships. And we provide the secure and caring environment where girls are constantly reminded of their worth and talents. The best part? Girls learn to do this for each other. They become each other’s allies and help reinforce the messages that everyone deserves to feel safe and respected.

We recognize that the responsibility for preventing assault and abuse lies with the whole community. Assault and abuse are never the fault of the victim. Adults need to model safe and appropriate touch and communication, and need to intervene when we see problematic or concerning interactions between young people or between adults and youth. When a young person comes to us with a question or to share an experience where they were harmed or felt unsafe, we need to believe them, be supportive, and share resources. We need to reinforce that no one has the right to anyone’s body or to disrespect or demean someone. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an invitation to step up and make our communities safer for girls, women, and people of all genders to live free from violence. Check out these resources to see how you can help, or contact us at OP to schedule a presentation for your organization or parent group.