April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I want to talk about awareness. This is a topic I am very passionate about speaking out about. The conversations that surround the topic of sexual assault is one that is too often taboo.
I am not afraid to say that I was a victim of rape. There was a time I hid this fact from those around me. I was scared. I was scared of how I would be perceived, looked at, and judged.
Since coming out about my experiences I have had such a great outpouring of support. I have also been able to grow and heal immensely through the writing I have done.
I can understand how this can sometimes be awkward or uncomfortable to talk about, but it needs to be said aloud. When we open up and talk freely we give others permission to do the same.
Another area of awareness that comes separate from being willing to talk about sexual assault it. That awareness is being aware of the danger that is around us.
So many of us, me included, go around life with the assumption that we are safe because we're with family, or at school, or with friends from church. This was the case with me. My attacker was in my ward. I trusted him. I trusted everyone at church. I assumed that because we were together every Sunday learning about Christ that we were all good people.
This isn't always the case. Now, I'm not saying everyone is dangerous. More than not those we know are safe, but we still need to be aware of red flags. We need to talk and educate ourselves and our children.
Have that talk with your kids. It might be uncomfortable, you might not want them to know that evil is in the world, but it could help keep them safe. If I knew then what I have learned since I would have been able to see the signs that this guy was not a good person.
This month being sexual assault awareness month is the perfect time to do it. Let's raise awareness. Let's spread hope and knowledge and let people know that their past doesn't define them.