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It is Always Okay to Say No

By: Laurie Samuel, Ph.D.




In April and May, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is observed in the United States and Canada, respectively. The rates of sexual assault are still staggering. This is a time where we pause to highlight cases of sexual violence directed towards women and girls and amplify voices of survivors. Official statistics show that before the age of 18, 42% of American females will have experienced at least one completed rape. Black women and girls are disproportionately represented among these numbers. According to the National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, "[for] every black woman who reports rape, at least 15 black women do not report."


The sounding mantra on social media posts this month is #consentrules. But that does not appropriately address the brutality, violence, and trauma black women experience when their bodies are used and abused. It is time to yell NO louder. We have the right to say NO if we do not want or invite sexual advances by predatory men. NO to taking our innocence. NO to violating young girls' bodies. NO to the hyper sexualization of black women's bodies. NO to seeing us as less than human. NO to victim blaming. And YES to protecting black women- body, mind, and soul.


Be safe,


Laurie


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References

National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community. (2018). Women's Violence Statistics. www.ujumacommunity.org.


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