On Thursday, April 27th, OAESV hosted our 5th Annual Advocacy Day to End Sexual Violence in Columbus, attended by nearly 100 advocates, preventionists, and survivors from across Ohio. We heard powerful messages of support from Senator Charleta Tavares, Representative Bernadine Kent, Senator Jim Hughes, and Representative Nickie Antonio. We also heard inspiring messages from Survivor Advisory Council Members. We met with legislators and their aides, speaking the truth about sexual violence and how it’s affecting our communities.
Empowering days like this have occurred all across Ohio this month in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Teal was seen in multiple ways in multiple places. Communities hosted awareness events, training workshops, races, social media contests, and fundraisers to support survivors and the programs that serve them.
April ends on Sunday. So, what happens next?
The crime of sexual violence does not follow a calendar. The suffering and healing of survivors occurs in every season. The need to change our culture and prevent these crimes from occurring will not stop when May begins. Rape Crisis Programs and allied partners throughout Ohio work hard every day of the year to support survivors, improve access to justice, shift the way our communities perceive and respond to sexual violence, and empower individuals and institutions to step in and prevent all forms of oppression. We know that the work continues, regardless of the season or the month.
So, how do we keep the momentum of April pulsing, visible, and tangible? Maybe we need to be louder and prouder about our work and the need for it.
When an offender is held accountable, declare it as justice served.
When someone takes action or makes statements that encourage oppression in any form, call them out.
When myths are being perpetuated in any context, speak the truth.
When someone stands up and does the right thing despite incredible risks, celebrate them for it.
When a survivor finds their voice, amplify the powerful ripple that voice creates.
When a partnership or project makes a difference, share it with others.
When someone new comes into this work or wants to get involved, fan the spark of that passion.
When you feel defeated or frustrated, find someone who will reignite that spark in you.
When a statement needs to be made, make it with courage and conviction, standing in the truth.
When you or your program experience a triumph of any kind, share, declare, and be proud!
Despite our many struggles over the years, Ohio has emerged as a leader in the fight to end sexual violence. This is no accident – it’s because of you, and it’s because of OAESV. Our leadership at the state and national levels will continue to make the triumphs and successes you forge an everyday reality in Ohio. Please consider supporting OAESV’s efforts by purchasing the t-shirt worn by advocates and OAESV staff at Advocacy Day. It’s not just another t-shirt: it’s a way to make our collective work more visible and tangible.
Following Advocacy Day, a survivor in attendance stated, “Anxiety, fear, and dread turned into power and a drive to go forward. A lifetime of ashes somehow turned into beauty today.”
Friends, these are the seeds planted in April. Now let's grow them to their fullest potential.