As a long-time Victim Advocate (VA) and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), I cannot begin to express how important this month is to the advocacy community. This is our opportunity to honor survivors and co-survivors of sexual assault, as well as victims of sexual harassment.
This field is extremely challenging due to the ongoing shift in our culture. But no matter what, we will not take our focus off the goal: eradicating sexual assault and sexual harassment. Yes, we realize this is an uphill battle. However, the obstacle is the path.
What are some obstacles?
- Misconceptions or lack of education in dealing with consent. No, does not mean yes. Consent is ongoing. A “yes” five minutes ago does not translate to a “yes,” now.
- Objectification of women and men, primarily in movies, music, and all social media platforms. (Sex sells…)
- Stereotypes, to include ones that jeopardize the welfare of the LGBTQI community.
I will not lie, the fact that I’m a male Victim Advocate motivates me, daily. It motivates me to keep moving forward, every time I hear:
- “But you’re a guy, why do you care?”
- “Men don’t care about this issue.”
- “All men are the same.”
- “People will not take you serious.”
Although I respect people when they ask me these types of questions, I do remind them:
- I care about people, regardless of their gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and beliefs. People are people and their story matters to me.
- Men do in fact, care. So do women. People always have the capacity to love.
- No, not all men are the same. There are some incredible men and women on this planet. We must not blame an entire gender, based on the negative actions of the bad ones. My mentors are both men and women.
- “I don’t take you serious,” is an opinion, not your reality. The best way to demonstrate your authenticity is to show people. Talking about what you’re capable and willing to do, is not enough.
At the end of the day, the focus must always be on empowering survivors. The recovery process is a long road and they do not deserve to take that journey without the right resources. I hope you can participate in a SAAPM event. (Color run, In Their Honor, Denim Day, etc.)
Denim Day: http://denimdayinfo.org/about/