April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Content Warning: The content of this blog will cover sexual assault and gender-based violence. Exercise care when reading.
While efforts to create safe and welcoming environments that are free from sexual assault and gender-based violence exist all year long, April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and presents us with an opportunity to discuss and engage in prevention efforts.
Theta recognizes that some individuals may be more likely to experience violence based on the identities they hold. Through conversations about prevention and support, it’s important to consider how this issue uniquely affects certain marginalized communities at higher rates.
Over the past year, the Fraternity’s Statement on Sexual Assault & Gender-Based Violence has been revised to more clearly condemn, operationalize, and guide Thetas. Below are actionable ways in which members, chapters and communities can support the creation of an environment that condemns this behavior, supports survivors, and engages in prevention efforts.
Kappa Alpha Theta supports survivors of sexual misconduct and sexual violence.
The role of supporting a survivor is critical. While acknowledging the needs of every survivor are different, below are some helpful guidelines to create a support-centered response.
- Support and validate their experience. If you’re unsure where to start, ask the survivor, “What can I do to support you in this difficult time?”
- Use similar language as the survivor when discussing their experience. Allow the survivor to define their experience as opposed to telling them what you think happened.
- Follow the survivor’s lead in seeking resources but be aware of what resources are available in your area. These resources could look like a Title IX office, counseling center, domestic violence shelter, or local law enforcement.
- Be mindful of your capacity and role, as supporting a survivor can be upsetting. Practice self-care and seek resources for yourself as needed.
Kappa Alpha Theta commits to engaging in prevention and intervention efforts.
Given the lasting impacts of gender-based violence, prevention is especially important. Understanding the differing forms of violence allows us to communicate concerns and begin critical conversations.
- Gender-based violence: Any type of violence that stems from power imbalances between genders.
- Sexual violence: A broad term referring to sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and rape.
- Relationship violence: Violence that occurs within the context of a romantic relationship, where a partner experiences one or more forms of abuse.
- Stalking and harassment: A pattern of behaviors that may cause someone to feel afraid or unsafe.
Kappa Alpha Theta partners with subject matter experts to connect members to resources.
When engaging with resources or creating educational opportunities, ensure content is grounded in the work of subject-matter experts. The below resources focus on prevention, policy, and education.
- Courage To Act: Resources for addressing gender-based violence on college campuses (Canada-based)
- It’s On Us: Education and prevention tools
- Know Your IX: Information about Title IX legislation and reporting processes (US-based)
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC): Victim/survivor services and education
- The One Love Foundation: Healthy relationship education
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN): Victim/survivor services, communication education, and public policy information
We believe Thetas have a role to play in addressing and preventing sexual assault and gender-based violence. Consider taking some time throughout April to think about how you might engage with or support prevention efforts in your community. If you have questions about the Fraternity’s statement or any of the content above, please email email@example.com.
If you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence, we believe you and we want to support you.
This blog was co-written by Emma Silvers, Alpha Xi/Oregon, assistant director of collegiate services at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.