Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) has served the community since 1972 as the only sexual violence resource center serving Boulder County, Colorado.

Applying Pandemic Prevention Practices to End Sexual Violence

The world is currently facing a pandemic that has changed the course of our lives. We will eventually accept what has happened to us and its impact on the way we live and interact with others. This traumatic event will forever be a part of our story.

In thinking about COVID-19’s effect on our lives I cannot help but see the parallels with sexual violence. We tend to respond to threats only when we are blatantly confronted with them and have no other choice but to deal with the problem at hand. We wait to intervene rather than take the necessary steps to prevent the issue in the first place.

Now, with COVID-19 in our communities, we are practicing social distancing, washing our hands, and taking the necessary precautions to help reduce the impact. In contrast, when it comes to preventing sexual violence, communities rarely take the necessary steps until they are squarely faced with the problem when a front-page news story breaks or law enforcement becomes involved and it can no longer be ignored.

To root out sexual violence in our communities, we need to start earlier, before someone is sexually assaulted. We can do this in the following ways:

  1. Enact policies that hold perpetrators accountable.
  2. Teach young people about gender equality.
  3. Teach boys and men how to get engaged in stopping sexual violence by holding their peers to a higher standard.

Just as we are now ensuring everyone is washing their hands properly, covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze, and staying home when they are sick, we should all be doing our part to end sexual violence by promoting early prevention efforts.

Natalie Henderson, MPH
Prevention Education Specialist
Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA)