INDIANAPOLIS—It is an uncomfortable topic that people often don’t want to discuss; however, sexual violence affects many Hoosiers and it’s time to start the conversation about how to prevent it. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and aims to educate individuals about sexual violence prevention. This year’s theme is “It’s time…to talk about it.”
“Even one person impacted by sexual violence is too many,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Sexual violence is a public health issue and as such there are evidence-based interventions that can be applied to help prevent it. It’s going to take the collaborative effort of the entire community, including the State and local health departments, schools, faith-based organizations and community groups to move the dial in the right direction.”
In Indiana, one in five women will be victims of sexual violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly three in ten women and one in ten men will be victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Youth also feel the impact as nearly 15 percent of young women and five percent of young men have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse in their lifetime.
The Indiana State Department of Health Sexual Violence Prevention Program is working to stop this violence before it starts. Working with Indiana’s Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Council, whose members are from around the state, the program partnered with the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in releasing the Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Policy Brief. This brief focuses on primary prevention and the state of sexual violence laws and policies in Indiana. Read the brief at www.in.gov/isdh/23820.htm.
In response to issues raised in the brief, WFIU/WTIU Bloomington created a documentary examining sexual violence among Indiana's youth. The documentary aims to educate people on sexual violence and encourages prevention efforts. View the documentary for free online at http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/special-features/shadows-of-innocence/video/
You can help prevent abuse. State health officials offer the following tips:
· Be a role model by treating your kids and others with respect. Start talking to your kids about healthy relationships early, before they start dating.
· Provide age-appropriate and accurate responses to questions about healthy and developmentally expected sexual development as children grow and learn.
· Attend an awareness event during April, like the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault balloon release at the Indiana Statehouse on April 23. Get more information on this and other events statewide at www.womenshealth.isdh.in.gov.
· Promote boundaries and respect privacy. Practice respectful boundaries when it comes to touch and affection by not forcing hugs or other touch.
· Learn what you can do as an active bystander when you see an instance of sexual violence. Visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC) Bystander Intervention resource page to learn more at http://nsvrc.org/.
If you find yourself in a threatening situation, focus on getting out safely and then tell someone what happened. If you have suffered physical or sexual abuse, go to an emergency department immediately for an examination.
To learn more about the efforts happening in Indiana, visit www.womenshealth.isdh.in.gov.
For more information about sexual violence prevention, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at http://nsvrc.org/.
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