Sexual Assault and Our Communities

April was Sexual Assault Awareness month, and as it draws to a close, it's important for us all to remember that it's an issue that needs discussion and attention all year long--not just April. While certainly men can be victims of sexual assault (domestic and in general), women are predominantly the targets. In particular, this post will be about violence against women of color.

For APIA women, 40-60% of report having faced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. This is higher than any other races, according to a report published in 2007 by the API Institute on Domestic Violence and the APIA Health Forum. Within ethnicities, the numbers vary but are staggeringly high, especially among undocumented women of all races, due to their immigration status being often held against them. There are often cultural or language barriers regarding the reporting of intimate partner violence as well. Let this be a reminder that the only person responsible for violence is the perpetrator--not the victim.

For more information on how domestic violence in particular affects APIA women, check out this fact sheet compiled by ECAASU's advocacy team.

Additionally, objectification and stereotypes play a huge role in the violence against women of color. From the "porcelain doll" stereotype of APIA women,  the "Indian princess" stereotype of Native women, or the "jungle fever," animalistic stereotype of Black women, all women of color, at some point, have probably heard these stereotypes used against them. Racism and sexism intertwine to make violence against women of color an even more pressing issue.

As I began this post, there was also a lot of conversation surrounding attempts to combat these stereotypes, namely with the hashtags #NotYourAsianSidekick and #NotYourMascot. I mostly watched the streams of these hashtags and participated tangentially, as I have a tendency towards verbosity and am still working on making my writing Twitter friendly. Regardless of my own ability to use hashtags, I found a lot of great participation and insight with both hashtags, from people of all races and genders. And that reminded me that at the end of the day, it is important that we remember that issues don't exist in isolation. We can't remedy racism without addressing sexism.