We all know that sexual violence is a problem. The numbers are staggering: Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. We live in a society that accepts and perpetuates rape myths, which manifest themselves through our media and our institutions and affect our individual perspectives on rape. Ending sexual violence requires that we all challenge these myths and shift our cultural acceptance of sexual violence.
On Oct. 15, two hundred fifty people took a stand by coming together through a Community Forum to discuss ways to end sexual violence in Buncombe County. It was open to everyone in the community, and the diversity of people present was a testament to the indiscriminate problem of sexual violence: young, old, black, white, male, female, gay or straight — it's a problem that affects everyone.
Importantly, just as sexual violence affects everyone, everyone must be involved in the movement to end sexual violence. Tony Porter, the keynote speaker at the forum, spoke about the importance of men stepping up to work with women to end sexual violence. Indeed, the purpose of the forum was not to discuss the problem of sexual violence, but rather to discuss ways to end sexual violence. People worked in small groups to brainstorm ways to end sexual violence in our immediate communities. The results were inspiring and truly embodied community activism. Everyone signed a pledge to [take the] action from the forum into the broader community. Sexual violence will only truly end when everyone stands up and says 'No!' to continued violence against the girls, boys, women and men of our communities.
If you are interested in joining the effort to eliminate sexual violence in Buncombe County, please contact Our VOICE. They are currently seeking volunteers as victim advocates, community educators and outreach workers. Call 252-0562 for information.
— Alexandria Nicole Connor, Our VOICE