Today, I listened to our local news give a report on a 35 yr old man living in Canada who tried to lure a 13 yr old girl for sex. Over the past couple of week, I’ve listened to reports of sexual assault and the number of rape kits still untested in our city. I won’t even start on the multiple murders and abuse cases reported related to domestic violence over the past month. Housing for victims of abuse is extremely limited and the criteria, in many cases, doesn’t fit the clients that need a place to stay. Lately, those serving the community in a professional capacity are the ones being arrested. By professional, I mean police officers, attorneys and public officials. I know our city isn’t alone in much of this. But, Memphis is the city I live in, and therefore, I feel I must continue to push here and work as best as I know how to spread awareness and challenge action. I’m talking tangible action. I’m talking accountable action.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. I encourage everyone reading this to please take a look at this link for additional information about sexual assault, rape, etc:

I want to encourage the following:

Have a conversation with your tweens/teens about sex, good touches, bad touches and social media. If you feel you need to look through their phones and computers-DO IT! It’s not about their privacy. It’s about their safety. What they feel is harmless or meaningless is oftentimes the very things that predators are looking for. Make sure you’re spending quality time with your tweens/teens. Listen to them. What you don’t want is for them to feel they must look for love and affection from a stranger.

If you have been sexually assaulted, report it. Get counseling. Seek justice. Your voice and your feelings matter! Don’t let anyone make you believe anything different. Silence is what the perpetrator is relying on. If you’re a family member or friend, be supportive. Believe the person who’s been assaulted. Do not judge or offer your ‘what I would have done’ attitude because you really can’t say for sure what action you may have taken, and honestly, it’s not what a victim nor survivor needs to hear.

Get involved-PLEASE. See something-say something. Write letters to your local and state officials. When it’s time to vote, see where politicians stand on the issues that matter to you. Vote them in OR OUT! Volunteer your time to support groups as a peer mentor. Receive certifications from places like the local Memphis Child Advocacy Center or National Organization for Victims Assistance (NOVA).