The NYC Department of Youth and Community Development is hosting a number of events to commence the final week of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month ( #SAAM ) and to honor #DenimDayNYC . Yesterday, the Children’s Aid Society’s Family Wellness Program put on a sexual assault awareness workshop for DYCD workers. The workshop featured myself, a CAS representative, and a representative from the NYC Mental Health Association Disaster Distress Helpline.
The 2 hour “brown bag lunch” workshop began with an icebreaker to put everyone at ease to discuss such a heavy topic. After a brief introduction and a game of guessing the room temperature, the laughter ceased and we moved on to cover a serious topic--sexual assault. My presentation covered the role that sexual assault plays in a violent relationship and how it is used in the cycle of abuse. The objective of the workshop was to give DYCD administrative workers an interpersonal look at sexual violence through the eyes of survivors.
Using my personal story of intimate partner violence we discussed the escalation of violence, coercion, and rape. Activities that followed were geared towards demystifying social speculations about sexual violence, gender violence, and rape. Both male and female participants were asked to list the things either gender does on a daily basis protect themselves from rape. While the men couldn’t think of more than a few ways they protect themselves from violence, women came up with a list of things they routinely do to prevent themselves from being targeted by a sexual predator. These lists were in fact risk reductors, not prevention methods which segwayed to the conversation of how we as a society handle sexual assault awareness.
We concluded the session with a brief exercise comparing the first reaction/ assistance you would give a loved one if they had been sexually assaulted or raped to the assistance one would like to receive if they were the victim of assault. In that exercise we found that while we show compassion and empathy for those close to us, we expect a higher level of care and concern if we were the one victimized. The informative workshop left DYCD staff with the question of how can social services and trauma care providers better understand and allocate their services regarding sexual violence education and services for its survivors.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24th at 12pm local NYC groups will gather on the steps of City Hall to participate in a press conference held by Manhattan Borough President, Scott M. Stringer. To learn more about Denim Day or to find #SAAM inspired activities, log on to www.denimdayusa.org and join me in the conversation on Twitter @QuasonaCobbLLC.