Thursday, April 4, 2013

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

After following the news for the past couple of months I am grateful that SAAM provides an opportunity to write about an issue that has been dark in my mind. From Steubenville, Ohio to New Delhi, India to Syrian refugee camps to the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- there isn’t a day goes by that one can’t find headlines about sexual assault victims.

Unfortunately for many people rape isn't just in the headlines. The national conversation about Steubenville makes it all too clear that this town is all our towns, this high school is all our high schools.  It makes me angry, and I know I am not alone in my anger.  But once that anger has been acknowledged, I think the next step is to strengthen our bravery and compassion. This isn’t happening to faceless victims, and the perpetrators aren’t anonymous bogeymen. These are people we know. They are people we care about.

I read articles that make me hopeful, too. Like this one, from the Public Library of Science, about how reading fiction can make you more empathetic. If we are going to have a dialogue about sexual assault in this country -- about what kind of society we want to be -- maybe that’s someplace we can begin.

Some of these books because are about sexual assault and the aftermath of assault. Others address slut-shaming, which has no small part in how we think about rape and rape victims.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

Leverage by Joshua Cohen

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Online resources:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

Prevent Connect

Date Safe Project

Reach Out

Safe Horizon

One Love (resources)

Why Abuse Prevention Demands “Cultural Change. At To Write Love on Her Arms

***AND THIS: Macmillan, publisher of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, is partnering with RAINN to raise money for sexual assault survivors. Macmillan and RAINN are also sponsoring a contest called "How Speak Spoke to Me"***


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