A Letter to the Editor in the April 24 Tomahawk Leader:
The sexual predators we hope to protect ourselves and our children from may be closer to us than we want to admit. They may be members of our family. They may already work with us. They may even live with us. Our daughters may already be dating them.
In Wisconsin, nine out of 10 sexual assaults go unreported. Nine out of 10 assaults are perpetrated by a friend, acquaintance or a family member. More than nine out of 10 assailants are male and nine out of 10 victims are female.
During April, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center is calling on communities to work together to prevent sexual violence. That requires more than simply being aware or sympathetic. If we’re going to prevent sexual violence, we have to face the troubling truth of these statistics and work to change them.
FPHS deals with the consequences of sexual assault every day. We prevent unintended and unwanted pregnancies by providing emergency contraception to victims. We test and treat sexually transmitted infections. We refer women to HAVEN for support and protection. But as important as that is, it’s mostly after-the-fact.
This April, let’s resolve as a community, to prevent violence and sexual discrimination beginning in our homes and in our daily lives. Let’s talk to our children and our loved ones about the importance of solving problems without coercion, violence or force. Let’s talk to our children about the value of all human beings and to our loved ones about ending sexual discrimination. And let’s be outspokenly intolerant of sexually exploitive and bullying behavior.
Prevention is a long journey made more difficult because we must take the first steps ourselves. But we don’t have to take them alone, we can take them together.
Family Planning Health Services, Inc.
(Editor’s Note: Lon Newman also is public affairs chair for the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. Family Planning Health Services serves Lincoln and six other counties, with a local office in Tomahawk. The statewide toll-free emergency hotline is 1-866-ECFIRST.)