April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and cities around the world are hosting Take Back the Night events to raise awareness about violence in their communities. With roots in anti-violence demonstrations in the 1970s, Take Back the Night events often include marches, rallies and vigils. In Bend, Saving Grace hosts a family-friendly event aimed at providing education and resources.
We chatted with Saving Grace
Development Director Lauren Biskind about tonight's event and the importance of talking about an often taboo subject.
Source Weekly: What are some common misconceptions about sexual assault?
That somehow victims contribute to getting sexually assaulted. That people should just get over it, like it is something they should just be able to move on from. Most rapists are punished for the crime, that the legal system will take care of it. That rape and/or sexual violence only happens to sexy, beautiful women. That victims frequently lie about being sexually assaulted.
SW: How does Saving Grace define consent and why is it important?
It is the presence of a “yes” when “no” is a viable option.
SW: Why is it important to raise awareness about these issues in our community?
The more we talk about this issue, the more educated and aware our community will be in preparation to help survivors. With sexual assault affecting 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in their lifetime, it is not an issue we can just glance over. For many it is uncomfortable topic to discuss, but the more we talk about it, the better off we are together to stand up against violence and assault and let our community know we do not tolerate that type of behavior.
SW: What actions can people take to prevent sexual assault and support survivors?
Actions people can take to support survivors are to get more education, understand the myths and facts around sexual violence, speak up about the issue whenever possible, support victims by believing them and ensuring that they feel supported, learn more about Saving Grace and our services so that you can share with those who may be impacted by sexual violence. What we need to do for prevention is to focus more attention on programs that educate boys and men around respect and honoring their partner’s wishes around sex and sexuality; what healthy, loving relationships look like
SW: What can folks expect at tonight’s event?
At our Take Back the Night event we will have various stations for people to visit to learn more about this topic. Our goal is that you will leave the event feeling more educated and aware of what sexual assault is and how you can help. The stations are fun activities that will hopefully spark conversation and get people talking with one another.
SW: What services does Saving Grace offer survivors of sexual assault?
Saving Grace offers advocacy at the hospital and health department for sexual assault survivors that come in for a SANE exam, as well as follow-up support. We also offer one on one peer support, safety planning, individual counseling services, legal advocacy and a support group.
SW: Where can people go to learn more about this topic?
You can learn more by attending our Saving Grace Volunteer training, or attending any of the events offered through COCC for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
SW: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We hope everyone will join us tonight at our Take Back the Night Event at the Old Mill District (former Orvis Building) at 6 pm and also visit our website (saving-grace.org) to learn more about Saving Grace and our work in Central Oregon.