Shout "Fire! Fire!" when you want to get people's attention. This is what self-defense instructors sometimes tell students in rape prevention classes.
I wonder why, in our society, it isn't advisable to shout, "Help! I am being raped!" Are we still uncomfortable about getting involved? Do we still expect the victims to deal with their trauma in silence and shame?
In April, designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, rape crisis centers such as Ventura County's Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence join with law enforcement, government agencies and community organizations to speak out against sexual violence and rape.
It's understandable that many shy away from the uncomfortable discussions about sexual assault and rape. But refusing to talk about it unwittingly helps to silence the voices of survivors and advocates who need their "No!" to be echoed by a chorus of voices in the community.
Joining the coalition at any of this month's events empowers you to become educated, empathetic and impassioned to work toward peace in your own relationships, experiences and life.
Speaking out against domestic violence and sexual assault has been part of the coalition's mission for 25 years in Ventura County. The group began as a small band of people who saw the lack of services for battered women. This commitment became stronger and a crisis hotline and a shelter for battered women and children were established.
In the early 1990s, the coalition received funding from the state Office of Criminal Justice Planning to provide a rape crisis center in Ventura County. The coalition continues to offer 24-hour, seven-day immediate advocacy for rape and sexual assault survivors with a sexual assault response team consisting of trained staff and volunteers. In 2000, the rape crisis center provided nearly 3,300 women, children and men with services relating to sexual assault issues.
Like the survivors we work with, over the years the coalition has gained strength and has an impetus to continue working diligently in all communities, until one day we can say, "Peace at home, in the streets, then the world."