I AM THE ONE
A campaign for childhood sexual abuse survivors
By Kemi Chavez, CCASA Blogger
What does it say about our society that even though we have the power to prevent many instances of sexual abuse, we still look the other way and continue to frame sexual abuse as a taboo? Then again, approximately 43.8 million Americans continue to use tobacco (CDC, 2010). So, maybe prevention isn’t a major priority.
As I read through article after article about the Steubenville rape, one quote hits me most: “My life is over, ” stated by Ma’Lik Richmond. The same Ma’Lik Richmond who along with Trent Mays, raped a teenage girl and memorialized the event with pictures. But instead of wondering what went wrong with these boys, I first wonder what will go right for this young girl. Who’s on her side keeping her from blaming herself for feeling responsible for the lost “opportunities” of her perpetrators, and who is helping her move forward? Though I have many words of advice on how we teach our young to respect others… that’s for another blog. Today, I’m focusing on how we change the culture of victim shaming.
Accepting commonly used statistics, it’s said that one of every four girls and one of every six boys will be sexually abused by age 18 (Finkelhor, 2000). I’m no statistician, but I know those numbers are alarming and should be enough to create nationwide discourse about helping our children gain a healthy sexual identity, develop sexual abuse education courses that focus on proven sources of prevention (they exist), and mandating a continuum of professional prevention education for adults working with children. Yes, I have no idea how these steps would be implemented, not to mention afforded… but what we’re facing is bankrupting our society morally and emotionally, not to mention the financial effects.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I find it heartbreaking that many survivors are ashamed of their abuse. I also relate to this embarrassment, as in many instances I shy away from sharing details about my abuse. This shame has been consistent in my life; the shame infuriates me, as I “know better.” I suppose this can be compared to a smoker’s compulsion to smoke, despite their awareness of long-term physical ailments.High-profile cases aside, childhood sexual abuse is greatly ignored in our society. Which is why I created the I AM THE ONE Campaign to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse (including myself) share their stories, give a face to the many statistics, and remind the public, media, and our society that survivors shouldn’t be ashamed of having been abused!
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual assault, please help me show support for survivors and spread awareness by creating your I AM THE ONE photo, share on your social media pages, and post it on the I AM THE ONE Facebook page (Facebook/iamtheonecampaign). Join me in this act of victim empowerment! During the month of April, in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), I’m encouraging survivors to change their social media profile pics to the I AM THE ONE logo. If you’d like to know more about the campaign and how you can participate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.