April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and EVE is Showing Support for Survivors
LANSING - April serves as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and to raise awareness and discussion about domestic and sexual assault or violence, and to support survivors of domestic or sexual abuse,
End Violent Encounters (EVE) is hosting events and webinars all month long.
Sam Stiles, the community outreach coordinator for EVE said the nonprofit organization’s mission is to support domestic and sexual abuse survivors as well as survivors of stalking and elder abuse on their journey to healing and to empower the community through education and awareness.
“It doesn’t matter when the abuse took place,” Stiles said. “If the abuse took place two days ago we have services for you, and if the abuse took place two decades ago, and you’re just now ready to talk about it, we still have services for you.”
Stiles said domestic and sexual violence by nature can make survivors feel alone and isolated, and the community might further that feeling of isolation or aloneness.
“It’s on us to stop this,” Stiles said. “We have to create an environment where survivors do feel safe and welcomed and accepted. We just need to start by believing them, that’s the biggest thing that we can do, but then also we need to start holding perpetrators accountable.”
Stiles said Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a great opportunity to have difficult conversations and raise awareness of domestic or sexual abuse, and that she hopes this month can be a reminder to people that have experienced assault or abuse that it’s not their fault.
“I understand that it can be hard and it can feel really uncomfortable to talk about sexual violence, but we can’t solve a problem that we don’t acknowledge,” Stiles said.
Stiles said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the amount of domestic and sexual assault or violence.
“We needed a stay-at-home order to keep folks healthy, but that furthered isolation,” Stiles said. “For perpetrators living with their spouse, with their significant other, with an ex, that isolation meant that they suddenly had 24 access to them. Beforehand maybe folks had an opportunity to go visit friends and family, kind of get a break, escape this violence or this assault this abuse whatever it is, and then suddenly that was taken away.”
However, Stiles said there are many ways people can get involved to help survivors on their journey to healing such as volunteering, donating your time, talents or money, attending awareness events or online webinars and sharing social media posts in support of domestic and sexual abuse survivors.
“Honestly, the most important thing that anyone can do is when a survivor comes forward to you, is to just believe them,” Stiles said.
Stiles said EVE teamed up with Sparrow Hospital to host a free rally, following COVID-19 guidelines, on Saturday, April 24 at 10 am in support of domestic and sexual abuse survivors.
“We just want to let survivors know that they’re not alone, that there are resources available for them, and that we can be here to help uplift and empower them,” Stiles said.