On behalf of all of us here at Refuge House, we would like to welcome you to this year’s VIRTUAL SAAM Event! As you know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year our theme is “Moving Forward Together.”
This past year we have faced unprecedented challenges navigating each day during the COVID-19 pandemic impacting how we can provide services. However, the fact that survivors NEED support has not changed. In fact, conditions intensified by this pandemic such as unemployment, economic instability, and stress can magnify abusive behaviors. This has also generated greater obstacles and barriers to accessing services. Survivors who face greater vulnerability to multiple forms of discrimination, including those who are older women, those living with disabilities, LGBTQI folks and trans women, immigrants, indigenous women, those of African descent and rural women suffer even higher risks and additional obstacles in accessing essential services.
We chose our theme “Moving Forward Together” to unite both survivors and advocates in envisioning what a world free of violence would look like. How can we continue to work together to support you in your journey through the trauma you have faced? How can we continue to move forward despite all the barriers and obstacles that cross our paths?
Due to the ongoing pandemic, we will be hosting this event through our social media pages and encouraging everyone to participate by using the hashtag #MovingForward and #SAAM2021. We will also be posting weekly to our website with different educational tools, resources, opportunities, and survivor stories as we Move Forward Together.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violence Against Women and Girls |UN Chronicle
What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence is one of the most common forms of power-based violence that uses sex as a way to have power and control over another person. It’s an umbrella term that encompasses all forms of sexual abuse, such as assault, harassment, trafficking, and prostitution. Refuge House is here to provide direct services for anyone who has experienced any form of sexual violence. For more information on our various services, please call our 24/7 hotline at (850) 681-2111 or visit our website at refugehouse.com. You are not alone and we are here for you!
Sexual Violence Myths & Stigmas
One of the obstacles that many survivors encounter in coming forward about their experience is the various stigmas against sexual violence. Sexual violence is all about power and control and can affect ANYONE, regardless of your background! For more information on sexual violence and the various stigmas around it, check out these websites:
Sexual Assault | Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (fcasv.org)
Myths and Facts about Sexual Violence | Georgetown Law
All About Consent
We’re all heard about it, but do we really know what everyday consent looks like? Sometimes, something as simple as checking in with a friend can help promote safety! We want to hear from you all on how you practice consent and what consent means to you! Don’t forget to use the hashtags #MovingForward and #SAAM2021. For more information on consent, here’s a few videos that break down the basics of it:
More Ways to Say “NO”
Sometimes, saying “No” can be difficult, whether it’s because of where we’re at or we just feel unsafe. There are so many different ways to say no and all forms are VALID! What are some other ways you can say “No”? Remember, even though you did not got a direct “No”, it still isn’t a “Yes”!
What do you do after a sexual assault?
After a sexual assault, you may wonder what to do next. It is not your fault that you experienced this traumatic event and there is support available to you. Whether it is right after the assault, or if time has passed, you can contact the Refuge House hotline at 850-681-2111 (available 24 hours) and explain that you have been assaulted. The hotline will provide support and is able to answer any questions you may have. The hotline will also initiate what we call a SANE response (Sexual assault nurse examiner program). The hotline advocate will help you determine a location to receive services, the hospital or our SAFE center facility. After, an advocate will meet you at the location to guide you through the process. The advocate will explain information about the forensic exam (rape kit) and reporting processes. You will have the option to chose what you want to do next. You have up to five days (120 hours) after an assault to receive an exam and about 18 months to report an assault, if you choose to. These sexual assault services are free and confidential at Refuge House, and we hope to provide support and guidance through this difficult time.