Contributed by Kathleen Palmer, Sexual Violence Prevention Health Program Manager, Idaho Division of Public Health.
Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Every year since 1970, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has led the nation in recognizing ways to respond to and prevent sexual violence. In light of the #MeToo movement that has raised awareness of workplace sexual harassment, now is a great time to engage with sexual violence prevention efforts around Idaho and in the United States.
Public Health Approaches to Sexual Violence
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines sexual violence as any sexual activity when consent is not obtained or freely given. This definition includes rape, forcible penetration and sodomy, sex trafficking, and intimate partner violence. The CDC identifies sexual violence as a public health concern as it relates to increased risk for short- and long-term physical and mental health problems. Further, sexual violence experience impacts individuals and their relationships, and communities and societies, as well. Public health programs are uniquely positioned to address sexual violence through a multilevel approach that empowers communities to end sexual violence before it starts.
Sexual Violence in Idaho
Sexual violence is a concern everywhere, including in Idaho. According to the 2012 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 5 men in Idaho have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. Sexual violence can occur at any age, although children and women under the age of 25 are at a higher risk. The person responsible for the violence is usually somebody known to the victim or survivor, such as a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor. The Idaho Sexual Violence Prevention Program, along with a host of invaluable statewide and local partners, aim to change this status quo.
Though Tarana Burke started the #MeToo movement over a decade ago, Alyssa Milano re-popularized the hashtag-turned-movement in October 2018 to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence and build solidarity among those who have been affected.
Hundreds of thousands of survivors and victims of sexual violence raised their voices, bravely told their stories, and joined in a chorus of saying #TimesUp for the silence around sexual violence experience in the home, at school, in public, and the workplace.
Shifting Towards Prevention
As a community of state employees, we are given an opportunity to speak out against sexual violence, and work together to end it before it starts. The Idaho Sexual Violence Prevention Program aims to work with community members, law enforcement, health centers, and resource agencies throughout Idaho to shift social norms that support cultures of violence. By working together, all Idahoans can create supportive environments for survivors and encourage all Idahoans to live a happy, healthy, and safe life.
- Follow @IdahoSVP on Instagram and Facebook for programmatic updates, events, information, and ways to be involved in sexual violence prevention.
- Wear teal in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Thursday, April 19. Don’t forget to tag the Idaho Sexual Violence Prevention Program @IdahoSVP on Instagram and Facebook!
- Join us for a screening of the film series “The Raising of America” at the Linen Building in Boise on Thursday, April 26 at 6 p.m. The film is free and available to stream online for free, as well. Please email Kathleen Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Learn more about public health approaches to sexual violence by visiting the CDC’s website, https://www.cdc.gov/features/sexual-violence-prevention/index.html.
- Call the National Sexual Violence Crisis Line, 800-656-HOPE (4673) if you would like information about local sexual violence resources for yourself or a friend.