As we look back on 2018, we can acknowledge that this has been another momentous year for the anti-sexual violence movement. From Kavanaugh to Katie Brennan to the ongoing efforts to expand N.J.’s civil statute of limitations, this past year represents many trying moments for advocates everywhere.

Despite the challenges, we know survivors and advocates are resilient. We are determined to accomplish great things in the face of adversity. With your support, NJCASA:

  • Launched the statewide prevention campaign Road to Prevention;
  • Supported the passing of the Safer Schools bill;
  • Successfully advocated for an additional $500,000 to fund sexual violence services in NJ;
  • And contributed to the updated and recently released Attorney General Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault, which outlines the policies and procedures for sexual assault response teams across the state.

Awareness and policy advocacy are steps in the right direction toward prevention of all sexual violence, but NJCASA cannot do this work alone.  Fortunately, everyone can contribute to prevention in their everyday roles; as parents, caring adults, students, community members, and more.

So what are some ways we can practice prevention daily?

Practice consent in all situations!

We often speak about consent in healthy relationships and sexual activity, however there are many ways we can practice consent outside of these situations:

  • Ask before you hug or touch someone; similarly, model this for children by not compelling them to hug their aunts or uncles at family gatherings
  • Don’t share personal information about another person unless they say you can
  • Don’t push people into activities when they’ve already said no or expressed reluctance (i.e. “Come on, just come out with us tonight!” or “Just have one more drink – it’ll be fine!” or “You HAVE to try this food.”)

We can support people’s decisions and right to say no by respecting their boundaries and accepting their “no” from the start.  When young people see the adults in their life model this behavior, it can have a powerful influence.

Call out rape culture.

Creating a safer culture means changing the norms that allow sexual violence to occur. We can call in our loved ones when they say harmful things that contribute to rape culture, such as:

  • Jokes that make light of sexual violence
  • Sexist comments and actions (such as catcalling) that uphold power imbalances
  • Statements that place the blame on the victim or survivor

Part of creating a safer culture is changing norms to support survivors and holding folks accountable for harmful acts.  As everyday prevention practitioners, we can help reframe these sentences by simply changing the subject of the sentence.

Instead of, “Why did they go out with that person?” Try, “Why did that person decide to harm them?”

This can help create a culture that holds offenders accountable and change harmful norms that perpetuate sexual violence. For more ideas on how to respond, we recommend visiting our blog about addressing victim-blaming in the comments section.

Connect with your local prevention educator!

Our county-based sexual violence programs are equipped to present to schools and community groups about prevention. Our member programs are staffed by prevention experts willing to share information to help you be an ‘everyday preventionist.’ Contact your local program to find out more about bringing a speaker to your event or meeting.

Visit NJCASA’s Road to Prevention campaign.

This statewide prevention project was launched during Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018. On the landing page, you can select one or multiple roles you play in your community (such as educators, parents and caring adults, coaches, community members, and more) and find out how you can contribute to prevention initiatives in your everyday role.

Prevention is possible, and together, we are creating a safer Garden State. Stay informed about how we are all making NJ safer by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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