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Sexual Assault Awareness Month - One Healthy Meal

Author: Tsara Shelton
Author Contact: @TsaraShelton on Twitter
Published: 21st Apr 2023
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Tsara's Column Publications

Summary: April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month #SAAPM.


Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault is an act of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent from the victim.

Main Document

April is sexual assault awareness and prevention month. We will not be aware of sexual assault by refusing to recognize it, we will not prevent sexual assault by hating perpetrators, we will not create healthy change by shaming women who like sex. In fact, we are complicit in the culture of assault when we do these things. We must be willing to listen well and to speak clearly.


I am not comfortable with speaking. Yet, I am willing - when asked - to speak about my experiences with and beliefs about the dangers of sexual abuse. I have strong feelings about helping others who have been sexually assaulted feel less alone and ashamed.

I also have strong feelings about the conversations around sexual assault and sexuality, more broadly.

Much of my writing addresses this desire of mine: to live in a world that does not display sex as nasty or sinful, does not overcorrect and audaciously display it as proof of something, does not relegate it to the domain of men, and does not judge, knee-jerk react, and pretend so much around it.

I am an intentional storyteller. When I think, when I write, when I talk, my ideas are shaped by an intention. Generally, that intention is to discover reasons for why something is happening and to come up with ideas for an appropriate action or an insight of understanding that will help me move forward with comfort. I am highly motivated by my own values and rarely judge others based on theirs. How this has affected my activism regarding sexual assault, I think, is I tend to care about understanding the story for everyone involved. The perpetrators as well as the abused. Often people are both, and I truly believe more perpetrators of abuse would not become perpetrators if we made more room as a society to honestly talk about sex, sexuality, and what is seen as the darker side of sex. If we would treat less people as monsters for dangerous thoughts, we might be more able to create less monsters.

I am compelled to write about this topic because I care about it. It matters to me. I have been abused by the prevailing status quo and am a voice that can speak to those who are less abused but equally involved in hopes that a few will choose to also care.

To speak about it is harder for me, but I am willing. When asked. I admit to trying not to be asked.

It's unfortunate because though a powerful piece of writing can influence and rearrange our thinking, it is listening well to people around us that has the greater impact. I would like to have a greater impact. Goodness knows, I am grateful to those who impact me in great ways.

I was once asked about the first time I felt heard, or validated, in relation to my own experience with sexual assault. It's tempting to say the first time I felt heard or validated was when I told my mom that my step-dad had been molesting me and she right away believed me. But I had been so certain she would believe me that I didn't feel it when she did. I'd have felt it had she hesitated (she did, but only on the inside where I wouldn't witness it) but her support of me was something I never questioned, even when my step-dad was touching me. My fear was that my telling her would ruin the happiness of our lovely home, because I knew she would believe me.

The truth is, the first time I remember feeling heard and validated was several years after my mom left my step-dad and I was on my long and winding road toward self-respect and self-love. A friend of mine raped me in our home but I was unsure if it counted as rape, because I had told him over the phone I would sleep with him and then when he showed up at the house drunk and I said no, but he did it anyway, I had only argued and fought it a little bit. So when my mom insisted I take him to court, her way of telling me yes it was rape, I still wasn't convinced. My mom loved me and was biased.

But that day in the court room I told the story, with honesty and uncertainty, and my friend told the same story: The story of a girl who said she would have sex with a boy, then changed her mind and said no, but the boy did it anyway even as she quietly continued to say please, no.

The judge that day was clear as he told us that yes, I had been raped. The boy who raped me did not know he had raped me, and I had been unsure as well. But the judge was clear, he was certain, he was also kind and caring to both of us. The judge had heard my "no" even though it was quiet. He had validated my experience, even though I had been unsure. And he had accepted me as a girl who was confused, had accepted my friend as a boy who was confused, and had told us in clear language that we were to always respect "no" whether it was from ourselves or someone else.

We had spoken our stories, he had listened well, and he had been clear and kind as he spoke to us. This is something I advocate for more of.

Listening well, speaking with kindness and clarity. It is in this way we will say "no" a little louder and "yes" without shame.

That was an important moment in my life, but I didn't walk out of there all confident about myself and sexuality in general. Like eating healthy food, you can't have one great meal and be healthy from then on. But, with intention and support I have grown healthy and happy, comfortable and confident, and I love sharing the ways I continue to do so.

When I was asked to tell my story and share some insights for an online course helping parents of children who had been sexually abused, I hesitated. Something I had written had brought me to the attention of the course creators, and I asked if they could just use my writing. But they were creating a course with videos and hoped I would speak, so I did.

The course has long since been abandoned (the work of helping children of abuse is emotionally exhausting and it is necessary to stop when it is hurting more than helping) but my video is available via YouTube. It is not going to change the world or fix anyone's situation, but it might help. It might be one healthy meal. (View the video by clicking the following link: Molestation)

April is sexual assault awareness and prevention month. We will not be aware of sexual assault by refusing to recognize it, we will not prevent sexual assault by hating perpetrators, we will not create healthy change by shaming women who like sex. In fact, we are complicit in the culture of assault when we do these things. We must be willing to listen well and to speak clearly.

Practice speaking clearly.
Even if speaking make you nervous.


Author Credentials:

Tsara Shelton, author of Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself, is a contributing editor to Tsara's personal blog can be found at Keep up to date with Tsara's latest writings by following @TsaraShelton on Twitter.

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Latest Tsara's Column Publications

The above information is from our reference library of resources relating to Tsara's Column that includes:

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Book review of Delta of Venus, a collection of fifteen erotic short stories.
Publish Date: 28th Apr 2023 - Updated: 29th Apr 2023
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Publish Date: 21st Apr 2023
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Autism and Sexuality questions answered by Dr. Lynette Louise, The Brain Broad.
Publish Date: 3rd Feb 2023

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• (APA): Tsara Shelton. (2023, April 21). Sexual Assault Awareness Month - One Healthy Meal. Retrieved September 23, 2023 from

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