Break Through Silence connects the arts to the healing, awareness, and empowerment that can result from the trauma of child abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual assault. Our events seek to inform participants of local resources, connect them with others affected by abuse, and help supporters and survivors alike to be further empowered and healthy. Abuse affects the individual as well as our society. We want to use artistic expression to fight back, and break through the silence of abuse.💙
Child abuse is defined by the nonprofit organization, ChildHelp, as “when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.”
Although progress has been made in our society, child abuse and sexual assault continue at an alarming rate. Every ten seconds a report of child abuse is made, and many cases are never reported.
On average, between four and seven children are abused and neglected daily in the United States. This is one of the worst records amid industrialized nations, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study and The Children’s Bureau’s Child Maltreatment 2012 Report. In an article published on January 28, 2016 by The Boston Globe, Massachusetts reported the highest rate of abused and neglected children in the nation in fiscal year 2014, and had nearly the same number of victimized children the following year, according to newly released state and federal figures.
Regarding the overall maltreatment figures, the Department of Human and Health Services reported to Huffington Post, white children account for almost 44 percent of the victims, black children for 21.5 percent, and Hispanic children 22.1 percent. About 11 percent of the victims were physically or mentally disabled. Child abuse doesn’t discriminate. It happens in all ethnicities, cultures, economic backgrounds and genders.
Some of the ways this affects adults who have survived child abuse are:
- At risk for intimate partner abuse
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Depression and suicide attempts
- Unsafe interaction with multiple sex partners
- Lost worker productivity
- Higher health care costs
- Criminal justice expenditures
Sexual assault has different forms, but one thing should always be understood: it’s not the victim’s fault. Ever.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) defines sexual assault as a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:
- Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
- Attempted rape
- Incest (Sexual contact between family members)
- Sexual contact with a child
- Sexual coercion
- Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching above or under clothes
- Any type of sexual contact with someone who cannot consent, such as someone who is underage, has an intellectual disability, or is passed out
Sexual assault can also be verbal or visual. It is anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples can include:
- Voyeurism, or peeping (when someone watches private sexual acts without consent)
- Exhibitionism (when someone exposes himself or herself in public)
- Sexual harassment or threats
- Forcing someone to pose for sexual pictures
Our Call to the Community
While we may not be able to change the world, we can contribute positively to our communities. Break Through Silence is a concerted effort to educate about child abuse prevention and sexual assault awareness. In April, which is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness month and Child Abuse Prevention month, breaking through the silence and barriers within abuse is our main goal. We will collaborate with other organizations in order to connect with our local communities, alerting individuals of nearby services, educating them, and spreading the knowledge that they aren’t alone. We hope that those in attendance at our events will be inspired for healthy change through art.