Preventing Sexual Violence

Rape culture is a term often used to explain the nature and pervasiveness of sexual violence within our society. While sexual violence is perpetrated by individuals who are fully responsible for their choices, rape culture explains how social norms may excuse or encourage sexual violence. Rape culture is upheld both by individuals and institutions.

A culture ideologically opposed to rape culture is a culture of consent. In a culture of consent, the severity of harm caused by sexual violence is respected and addressed by individuals and institutions. Respect for other’s bodies and boundaries is emphasized and normalized, and perpetrators of sexual violence are held accountable for their actions by the law and the community. In a culture of consent, we all take responsibility for creating a world free from sexual violence. Some actions that can help foster a culture of consent include:

  • Practice enthusiastic consent
  • Elevate the voices and experiences of survivors while respecting their wishes
  • Don't judge people for their sexual behavior or clothing choices
  • Believe survivors when they come forward about sexual assault
  • Correct friends and family members when they make sexist jokes or comments
  • Vote in elections for officials that champion anti-rape legislation
  • Be an active bystander and step in when you witness sexually violent behavior. Learn how through Step UP! training.

Communities, Identity, and Sexual Violence

Intersectionality is a term used to describe how different types of oppression and discrimination interact with each other and affect one’s privilege and experience in society. A person’s multiple identities are not mutually exclusive and they “intersect” to create a unique experience. Forms of discrimination like racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia interrelate and create a complex system of oppression. People who possess more than one marginalized identity (ex: black women, queer people with disabilities, transgender Muslims) often have their specific experience with discrimination overlooked or even erased in favor of the narratives of people within those groups who hold more privileged positions. Personal identities and communities can significantly impact a survivor’s experience of safety, healing, acceptance, and connection; intersectionality is also vital to include in conversations about rape culture and community prevention of sexual violence.

At CARE, we recognize the importance of intersectionality when working with survivors and their communities. We work to continuously educate ourselves on various systems of oppression. However, we know some people are more comfortable working with advocates who also possess their identities and are members of their communities. We are always happy to refer survivors to resources that cater to your specific needs. Some local options are listed below:

  • KAN-WIN’s mission is to eradicate all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence and sexual assault, by empowering Asian American survivors and engaging the community through culturally competent services, community education and outreach, and advocacy.
  • Apna Ghar provides holistic services and conducts outreach and advocacy across immigrant communities to end gender violence.
  • The Anti-Violence Project at the Center on Halsted empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy
  • Mujeres Latinas en Acción empowers Latinas through providing services which reflect their values and culture and being an advocate on the issues that make a difference in their lives.
  • Illinois Imagines Chicago's vision is to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence who have disabilities will have access to high quality, integrated support that is person-centered and responsive to the unique needs of each individual.

Online Resources