To end domestic violence and sexual assault, we all need to be part of the solution. Educating yourself and others, helping a friend who is being abused, speaking up about abuse, and acting as an engaged bystander are all examples of things we can do to help.
Know the Facts
The next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about this:
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
- 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
- 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape.
- 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.
Looking for the citations for these stats? Click here.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Some signs of an abusive relationship include:
- Exerting strict control (financial, social and/or appearance).
- Needing constant contact including excessive texts and calls.
- Insulting a partner in front of other people.
- Extreme jealousy.
- Showing fear around a partner.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Frequent canceling of plans at the last minute.
- Unexplained injuries or explanations that don’t quite add up.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a crime motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm. Perpetrators use sexual assault as a weapon to hurt and dominate others. Sexual assault is forced or coerced sexual contact without consent. Consent is the presence of a clear yes, not the absence of a no. It can take the form of:
- Child Sexual Abuse/Molestation
- Oral sex
- Forcing a person to pose for sexual pictures
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching above and under clothing
- Force which may include but is not limited to:
- Use or display of a weapon
- Physical battering
- Immobilization of the victim
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resources
To learn how to help someone in an abusive relationship or to get help for yourself, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
For teens and youth, call 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522 or live chat at www.loveisrespect.org.
To find more information regarding male survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, please see Men Can Stop Rape’s Resources for Male Survivors. Men who may have had unwanted or abusive sexual experience in childhood, family members, friends and partners of men who may have had those experiences can also use the 1in6 Online SupportLine – a free, confidential, and secure service – to get help.
Family members and friends who are being abused by a partner may feel overwhelmed or frightened. The resources below may help you determine if your friend or family member is in danger and help you offer your support:
- How Can I Help A Friend or Family Member Who Is Being Abused?
- 10 Warning Signs by Break the Cycle
- Resources for Family & Friends of Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse by 1in6
- Help A Stranger by Loveisrespect.org
- Help Your Child by Loveisrespect.org
These are potentially very volatile situations, so you should always reach out to the experts for help and guidance.
Being An Active Bystander
Everyone can play an active role in stopping sexual violence before it occurs by becoming an engaged bystander and establishing healthy and positive relationships that are based on respect, safety, and equality..
Moreover, taking steps to stop harassment or violence can make a significant difference in someone’s life, and send a powerful message to the perpetrator and society as a whole about which social norms are acceptable and which are unacceptable.
So, what does an engaged bystander look like?
An engaged bystander is someone who intervenes when they see or hear behaviors that promote sexual violence. Intervening does NOT mean putting yourself in danger. Safety is key in deciding when and how to respond to any type of violence.
Intervening CAN mean disrupting the social norms that perpetuate sexual violence in our culture like glorifying power over others, objectifying women, tolerating violence and aggression, promoting male dominance and adults’ misuse of power over children, to name just a few. By doing that, you are acting as an engaged bystander and helping create a safer environment.
Above all, if you see or hear something and you do not feel safe, call the police or go to the authorities.