April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a topic that is very near and very dear to my heart.
Those of you who know me well know that when I am not living on the internet or making videos about my TBR and Interrobangs know that by day I work for a rape crisis agency as educator. I travel around and teach kids about healthy and unhealthy relationships and what to do if they are assaulted. When I’m not teaching, I answer the phones, I answer the hotline. I’m on call a few times a month, to serve as a rape crisis counselor should someone be assaulted outside of the 8-5 time frame.
Did you know that 1 in 4 women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime? Or that 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused by the time they turn 18? To me, these statistics are unacceptable. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
Sometimes my work world and my book world converge, like when I’m reading a book and there happens to be a sexual assault depicted or relationship violence converge. I end up putting on my educator hat when reading and considering my review. One of my blogging friends got me thinking the other day of things I could do to raise more awareness, and one was to blog about the issue and about some recommended reads.
You see, I believe strongly in the power of bibliotherapy. And yes, it is actually a thing. Basically, bibliotherapy in a nutshell is where you read a book about a character who is going through something similar to you in order to not feel so alone and to help you process your traumatic experience.
But, I also strongly believe in the power of books to cultivate empathy. I think it’s harder to victim blame when you’ve been in the head of a character whose been assaulted. I guess reading makes me a more compassionate person, and I hope it makes you one as well.
Not sure where to start?
Here’s some books with themes of sexual assault:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson*
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney*
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager*
You Against Me by Jenny Downham as recommended by Shanyn
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers*
Crank by Ellen Hopkins*
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott*
Such A Pretty Girl by Laura Weiss
One Lonely Degree by CK Kelly Martin
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (sexual harassment)
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Charltas
Lark by Tracey Porter
The Earth, My Butt And Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins as recommended by Shanyn
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
*means I have read the book
A few ending tips that I absolutely need to write:
- If you are assaulted, please tell someone. There are confidential hotlines all over the US. Please, please speak to a professional. We can get you counseling, we can help you fill out crime victims compensation applications. We can provide advocacy.
- If someone discloses to you that they have been assaulted, please believe them. Please don’t ask them what they were wearing or what they were drinking. All that matters is lack of enthusiastic consent.
- Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what the victim was wearing. It doesn’t matter what the victim was drinking. It doesn’t matter what the victim’s sexual history is.
- From a training I went to: Believe that rape, abuse, and stalking are unacceptable and say it out loud.
- Speak up when you hear sexist language or jokes. It’s not acceptable.
- If you are concerned about your friend’s safety, please check in with them.
You honestly don’t have to do everything, but I truly believe we can all do something to help victims and shift the norms so that we place blame on the perpetrator.