Sexual Assault Awareness Month: A Movement Towards Healing in New Mexico Tribal Communities
blog by Devona Bradford
Last month CSVANW was invited to be a guest speaker and join the Pueblo of Laguna for their community awareness event “Stride with Pride Against Sexual Violence.” 162 attendees joined us that day at the K’waika Center! What a success! As my family merged with the large crowd for the 1 mile walk, I couldn’t help but think about how each person might’ve been impacted by sexual violence. Sexual violence is a difficult topic for many of us. It carries deep pain and shame, deeply imbedded within us and the generations before us. This makes it hard to talk about in our communities and with our families.
The year’s theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month was “Engaging New Voices.” Our goal was to find creative ways to supportive and bring awareness to such a heavy topic. We traveled throughout the state and visited several tribal communities, shared resources and started these culturally-sensitive conversations.
We sat down with parents and staff at the Haak’u Learning Center to share tips on child body safety, shared resources and even shared some of our survivor stories. We visited with youth at the Institute of American Arts and discussed honoring healthy boundaries and how true consent is the foundation to preventing sexual violence. We also cosponsored the first annual “Open Space=Safe Space” walk in Albuquerque to reclaim public spaces where sexual assaults have occurred as safe spaces.
At the Coalition, the focus we choose to do this work from is from a place of empowerment. To empower and remind one another that we have what need within ourselves and our communities to end sexual violence. It’s always been part of our legacy of resiliency. Resiliency passed down by our holy ones. Healing starts when we collectively create safe spaces to share our stories and “name it.” Talk about sexual violence and increase awareness, especially with our young ones.
This work continues after Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We must continue to show up and meet our communities where they are and support the journey to healing.