Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Engaging Locally & at Home

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My toddler’s cheeks are so kissable. I can barely contain myself from covering them in kisses. Recently, her own little voice is developing. While she is full of sweetness, occasionally her reply is, “No mommy. No more kisses.” Learning to respect her boundaries, even at the tiny age of two, makes a difference. It is one way our family is working to raise a strong girl; one that will hopefully be able to stand up for herself, and someday engage in the dialogue against sexual assault.

small blooms of spring flowers against blue skyApril is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). It is never too early to start talking with our children about their choices, bodies, and boundaries. The gift of motherhood is powerful. We can shape little hearts to care for themselves and others, and one day become a voice for the voiceless.

Learn More about Sexual Assault & How to Talk with Little Ones

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center features resources and tools to navigate these conversations. Also, RAINN has numerous statistics and safety support resources for parents. We are still in the early stages of this piece of parenting in our house, but here is what we are working on with our two-year-old:

  • Teach the correct names for body parts and encourage independence in washing those areas. 
  • Allow children to have options for hellos and goodbyes and never force hugs or kisses. Champion instead for high fives or waves if they are feeling less affectionate.
  • Model and encourage asking permission before hugging or showing affection with friends or new playmates.
  • Respect and listen to their wishes when they ask not to be touched. 
  • As much as possible, encourage our children to use their words and verbalize how they are feeling.

Learning from other mothers can also be a source of great wisdom especially those ahead of us in the journey. Share with each other articles, books, and experiences that have helped teach our children along the way. 

Engage Locally

Donating, volunteering, or participating in local awareness-raising events are great ways to engage as a mother and alongside your family. Here are three local organizations to check out this month:

  • The Women’s Resource Center at Portland State University offers a wide variety of ways to engage in Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and provides information to the community about sexual and relationship violence.
  • The Breathe Network is a wonderful resource for holistic support and trauma-informed care of survivors. Their website has more information on local events and training sessions.

Know When and Where to Get Help

If you suspect sexual assault or need help now call the local, 24-hour sexual assault resource hotline at 503.640.5311, or nationally at 1.800.656.HOPE.

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every eight minutes that victim is a child. Hopefully, horrific statistics such as those will propel us into action not out of fear but through acknowledgement of the powerful role we can play as mothers.

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Heidi moved to Portland in 2005 from sunny Southern California. Heidi entered into motherhood with the birth of her daughter, Maia, almost 2 years ago. Her and her husband are expecting their second little one this summer and looking forward to growing their family. Motherhood continually provides Heidi a chance to practice her yoga off the mat and learn the power of presence amidst both the joyous dance parties and the never-ending dishes and diapers. Heidi works part-time as a labor and delivery nurse and is passionate about volunteering and working to create positive change in our community and abroad.