April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As we recognize the importance of protecting children and helping survivors heal and thrive, we urge everyone to join the child protection movement and do the same – this month and beyond.
You can do this in many ways. Simply talking about child abuse and sexual violence is one way. Having thoughtful, open and trauma-informed conversations about abuse helps break the often-present stigma around it. It is often very difficult for survivors to disclose their abuse. Being open and present for survivors – and telling them you believe them! – can help give them the courage to disclose and begin their healing journey.
Another thing all of us can do is learn to recognize grooming and other signs of child sexual abuse. Anti-sexual violence and child advocacy organizations such as RAINN
provide guidelines on identifying grooming behaviors by adults who seek to sexually abuse children, and how to respond when you suspect abuse is occurring.
You can also contact lawmakers and urge them to pass laws that protect children. In the past year, significant child protection legislation has been considered by legislators in many states. New York enacted its Child Victims Act, allowing more time for sexual abuse survivors to seek justice through civil lawsuits. New Jersey and California appear poised to do the same. In addition, attorneys general in multiple states – most notably Pennsylvania and Illinois – spearheaded wide-ranging, revealing investigations into clergy abuse. None of this is possible without the hard work and determination of courageous survivors, people close to them and advocates who spent countless hours working to get laws passed and the truth exposed. There is still time for everyone to join this fight.
No matter what, it is a great time to really think about the importance of child abuse and sexual assault prevention. It is an even better time to do something about it.
Show your support by wearing jeans on April 24 for Denim Day. Denim Day began over 20 years ago after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the rape victim was wearing tight jeans. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has been a symbol of solidarity. Stand with survivors and against inaccurate and harmful attitudes about sexual violence by wearing jeans.
Watch for updates on our efforts to raise awareness about these important issues this month.