Sexual Assault Awareness Month is observed each year in April. This campaign aims to increase awareness about the causes and risk factors for sexual assault and also to empower individuals to take steps to prevent sexual assault in their communities.
According to the National Sexual Violence Center, in the United States 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harasement and/or assault in their lifetime.
It is important that we as a church community work to prevent sexual abuse in our most sacred of spaces. This resource from the ELCA, “Safe Connections,” outlines what we can all do to understand and prevent clergy sexual abuse. The paper stresses the unique role clergy have in a congregation, both as part of the church family, but also as leaders whose role is to bring people to the gospel. Therefore, healthy, respectful boundaries are important and will lead to “Safe Connections.”
In 2008 Baylor University completed an in-person survey with 3559 participants. More than 3% of women who had attended a congregation in the past month reported that they had been the subject of clergy sexual misconduct at some time in their adult lives.
Possible signs of any type of sexual assault include withdrawal from close friends and family, sudden changes in behavior, depression, anxiety or unusual fears, self harm, sleep disturbances, or night terrors. Symptoms for children include school absences, running away, or rebellious and defiant behavior.
If you suspect child sexual abuse, contact Carver County Child Protection at 952-361-1600 and speak to a social worker. You can report anonymously, or you can simply call to talk with someone if you are uncertain about whether to make a full report.
Learn more about how you can help prevent sexual misconduct. If you are a victim of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at 800-656-4673.