Even during difficult times, it’s important to remember and stand up for those who are most vulnerable. April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and though victims and survivors of abuse should have the support they need all year long, the month-long observance brings attention and awareness to issues surrounding abuse and violence, and highlights the resources that are available for survivors.
Child Abuse Prevention Month is a nationwide observance dedicated to supporting victims and survivors of child abuse and raising awareness in order to prevent abuse and neglect in the future. April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), developed as a result of the civil rights movement. The NSVRC wrote in a post, “As long as there have been people who care about making the world a better place, there have been individuals advocating for sexual assault prevention.” This sentiment remains true in 2020.
Although people continue to march, rally, and advocate for survivors of abuse, we read news articles and watch TV clips detailing the most recent domestic assault charge or case of child abuse every single day. The Boy Scouts of America have been under fire over the last several years after thousands of cases of child sexual abuse came forward, many of these allegations dating back decades.
In recent years, legislation to protect children from abuse and extend the amount of time that victims have to file claims has been enacted in several states, including New York, California, Texas, Delaware, and Connecticut. These new or improved laws, however, have not only opened the floodgates for child abuse victims to sue their perpetrators, but also opened the eyes of the public to just how widespread the trauma actually is. Among the most common, overarching forms of newly reported abuse cases was abuse committed by a priest or clergy member. Similar to the allegations against the Boy Scouts, many of the claims pertain to assaults spanning over decades.
Though cases of abuse and assault are not as uncommon as we’d hope, there have been recent instances where justice is served. In March 2020, the once-Hollywood tycoon Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to serve 23 years in prison in a “landmark #MeToo trial.” Weinstein was accused by more than 80 women of sexual assault and harassment. Though a small victory for those who he affected, NBC News wrote that the prosecutors representing these women said, “no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed.”
For many victims and survivors of abuse, justice isn’t always served, which is why it is so important to raise awareness to these issues and support those who need it most. A blog post by Childhelp.org writes, “We all must present a unified front to raise awareness and create change.” Even with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping our nation, there are many ways that you can help abuse survivors, as well as individuals and families, who are most vulnerable to acts of violence. Donating non-perishable items to your local food pantry can help a family in need put dinner on the table. Contributing a few dollars to organizations that strive to prevent and end child abuse can help them secure the resources they need. It’s a trying time for all of us, but many individuals and families — even in our own communities — would benefit from a little extra help.