The Women’s Center at LPTS takes a special interest in this event because the keynote speaker will be our friend and colleague Rus Funk of Menswork. (OK, and because Acting Director, Heather Thiessen, will be able to stop by the rally on her way home to Corydon, something that doesn’t happen every day.)
The timing of the event focuses attention on April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an initiative of the National Sexual Violence Research Center (NSVRC). This year’s theme is “Prevent sexual violence — in our workplaces!” and uses the slogan “Respect works!” Sexual violence on the job is more common than we like to believe. The NSVRC reports that “U.S. employees experienced 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults from 1993 to 1999” while working or on duty. Given the place of work in most people’s lives, given the role the community of work plays in providing a place of belonging and meaningful effort, these assaults are particularly devastating, as well as costly to victims, their colleagues and their employers.
The event underscores that April is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month. (More information, as well as an extensive collection of resources, available from the Child Welfare Information Gateway of the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.) The power dynamics of sexual assault and of child abuse link these two forms of violence tightly to one another.
In both cases, increased awareness — of how to prevent, avoid, and respond to assault and abuse, and how to provide the support targets or survivors of assault and abuse need — shatters the silence and shame that still often surrounds traumatic assault events, challenges blaming-the-victim tactics still encountered in law enforcement, community and family settings, and contributes to making communities less violent and more hospitable places for women and men.
Take Back the Night, indeed.