There are lots of ways men can help end sexual violence. Promoting healthy behavior and responding to survivors in helpful and healing ways are great places to start. Below are some general ways to help.
- Equip yourself with information by learning about sexual assault, strategies for prevention, and how to respond to survivors in a helpful way. Sexual violence is a violation of a boundary or an unwanted behavior ranging from gestures and verbal harassment to rape. People who commit sexual violence often test individuals they may offend against by making them uncomfortable and watching how they behave. They may intrude their physical space to find out if the individual will defend their physical boundaries or not. This is known as challenging their boundaries. Respecting even the smallest of boundaries is a step toward preventing sexual violence.
- Help prevent sexual violence and promote healthy relationships by modeling healthy boundaries.
- Use your relationships to be helpful. For example, if someone is pressuring another person to drink alcohol when that person doesn’t want to, you can help reinforce that boundary by repeating that s/he doesn’t want it and to stop. This can work for any situation in which a person is communicating “no” verbally or non-verbally, but the behavior is continuing.
- Use your relationships to honor victims/survivors. For example, if a friend tells a joke about rape, choosing not to laugh can communicate that jokes about rape are not ok with you.
- Show respect within your relationships by avoiding the habit of interrupting and listening attentively. This is a tiny but important relationship skill that honors boundaries.
- Respond in a helpful way when someone tells you that they have been sexually violated. It is likely that you know someone who has been sexually assaulted. The first person a victim/survivor tells has a profound impact on if that person begins the process of healing or is further hurt by having told. Things you can do:
- Listen without judging or interrupting.
- Tell them it wasn’t their fault. No one has the right to abuse.
- Tell them you believe them.
- Ask how you can be helpful.
- Refer them to a local rape crisis agency for counseling and services.
- Use social media to promote healthy behaviors in relationships, and prevent sexual violence. Share information that identifies healthy versus unhealthy behavior and reflects the realities victim/survivors face.
- Donate your time and/or money.
- Join a group that is dedicated to preventing sexual violence, such as Men Against Violence.
- Volunteer at a local rape crisis center.
- Donate to your local rape crisis center.
For additional information, see Jackson Katz’s article on 10 ways men can help for information specific to men.