One of Joyful Heart's guiding principles is to foster a community that says to a survivor, "We hear you. We believe you. And your healing is our priority." To cultivate this kind of community—one that turns toward this issue—we address the issue from three angles:
HEAL: We have crafted our pioneering retreat and wellness programs to offer survivors a free and safe space to further their healing process. Our treatments engage the mind, body and spirit in the healing process. Together, we work to discover the strategies that benefit each individual
EDUCATE: Our programming, our website, and our publication, Reunion, are all designed to cultivate awareness around this issue. By creating awareness, we are working toward broader change in the way the issue of sexual violence is viewed, discussed, and handled in our culture; and in the way those who have endured it are treated.
EMPOWER: We aim to empower communities at a grassroots level, encouraging local involvement in sexual assault campaigns and programming. Whenever possible, we promote and assist partner organizations in spreading the messages of healing and change.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month was born from a grassroots movement in the 1970's, comprised mainly of women engaging in protests, like Take Back the Night marches. Eventually, protestors began to organize and form coalitions. Over time, these coalitions incorporated the issue of sexual violence against men into their agendas. By the late 1980's, one week in April was selected to promote national awareness of the issue. Sexual Assault Awareness Month was first officially observed in April 2001.
Read more about Sexual Assault Awareness Month here.
This year marks a milestone in the fight against violence against women. Fifteen years ago, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) was created. In the ensuing decade and a half, "countless lives have been saved, the voices of survivors have been heard, families have been protected, and the criminal justice community has been trained on the complex responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking." Without the work of the OVW, much of the progress our nation has made on the issue of sexual violence would not have come about. Their efforts have made a significant and immeasurable difference in the lives of millions of survivors.
Read more about OVW here.
This year's theme is preventing sexual assault on our campuses. College age women are four times more likely to be assaulted than women in other age groups. Promoting awareness and safety on college campuses is essential in the fight against sexual assault.
For more information on this year's theme of college campus safety, click here.
If you or someone you know needs help, you are not alone. Help is available:
To learn more about Sexual Assault Awareness Month and related activities:
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The Department of Justice OVW
Family Violence Prevention Fund
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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