PORT TOWNSEND — “Consent Matters” is the theme of the programming of supportive and informational events that Dove House Advocacy Services is overseeing to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
Programs include sharing information to dispel myths around sexual violence, support groups for survivors, trauma-informed yoga and more.
The full theme of the program is “consent matters; sexual assault is 100 percent preventable,” said Beulah Kingsolver, executive director.
Raising awareness of what consent means and helping sexual assault survivors heal from trauma are focuses of the campaign, Kingsolver said.
“I think the importance of sharing the information is reaffirming that everyone has the right to decide what part of their body they want to share and not share,” she said. “If someone crosses your boundary, that is an assault. It doesn’t have to be any penetration or violence.
“I also think, when we talk about this, it allows people to come forward and talk about it, and some people are holding a lot of shame around what happened to them as children, both males and females. If you hold the assault in a place of shame, then there’a a really hard way to heal and step into your own power and who you are in the next relationship,” she continued.
“When you hear something and that maybe happened to you, you’re often able to make that connection and be like, ‘Oh, that happened to me,’ and release some of that pain and shame that is not really even yours to hold.”
As part of next month’s programming, Dove House will offer a one-time drop-in space for survivors of sexual assault via Zoom from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on April 14, Kingsolver said. The Zoom link is available at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-SexualAssaultAwareness.
Dove House also will post information throughout the month on the issue, and it will distribute information at the Food Co-op on April 6, she said.
There are two other Concentric Circles Conversations support groups as well, scheduled on April 24 and May 8 from 10 a.m. to noon for survivors, Kingsolver said.
The event page also has trauma-informed yoga sessions that people can follow.
They allow participants to go at their own pace while certified instructors lead them through a form of guided-meditation yoga that is mindful of potential trauma a person may have, especially with some poses, she said.
A Consent Word Bingo game is planned from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on April 21 via Zoom. The Zoom link is available at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-SexualAssaultAwareness. It is aimed to help teach participants different expressions of consent, Kingsolver said.
In the past six months, 36 intakes at Dove House said they had been sexually assaulted within their lifetime, and an additional 27 identified as adults who were raped as children, Kingsolver said.
Raising awareness of what consent means such as “consent is yes” and “consent is not a maybe,” and supporting victims is an important way for the community to address the issue and prevent further assaults, Kingsolver said.
More information on the specific programs and consent information can be found at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-SexualAssaultAwareness.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]