President Barack Obama has just named April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The President’s proclamation shines a light even more brightly on this demoralizing crime–which can have life and death consequences.
The White House press release, Presidential Proclamation—National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, 2014, states the following: “Every April, our Nation comes together to renew our stand against a crime that affronts our basic decency and humanity. Sexual assault threatens every community in America, and we all have a role to play in protecting those we love most—our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives, our daughters and sons. During National Sexual Awareness and Prevention Month, we recommit to ending this outrage of sexual assault, giving survivors the support they need to heal, and building a culture that never tolerates sexual violence.”
The White House continues, “We have come a long way, but sexual violence remains an all-too-common tragedy…Sexual assault is more than just a crime against individuals. When a young boy or girl withdraws because they are questioning their self-worth after an assault, that deprives us of their full potential. When a parent struggles to hold a job in the wake of a traumatic attack, the whole family suffers. And when a student drops out of school or a service member leaves the military because they were sexually assaulted, that is a loss for our entire Nation.”
And finally, “This month, let us recognize that we all have a stake in preventing sexual assault, and we all have the power to make a difference. Together, let us stand for dignity and respect, strengthen the fabric of our communities, and build a safer, more just world.”
As a journalist and activist, my signature issue is domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ community, generally known as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A). More often than not, this destructive, demeaning and potentially life-threatening behavior is heavily stigmatized and “swept under the rug” within the LGBTQ community. As a result, IPV/A is grossly underreported.
New research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals are living in fear of an abusive partner than previously thought. And each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered, and about one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.
According to psychologists and authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, “Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t ‘play fair.’ Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her ‘thumb.’ Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.”
I conduct IPV/A seminars and workshops across the country to inform and educate, in the hopes that victims can make their “Great Escape.” I’ll continue to update you on where I’ll be next.
Remember: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse ain’t “boys being boys”—or whatever is said to minimize or “blow it off” this reprehensible, dangerous behavior.
It’s serious stuff.
And totally unacceptable.
Each year, more than a half million