Fight Back Against Sexual Assault


SUGAR LAND: On Saturday December 9, Daya held its next installment of Start the Conversation, a lecture and event series where the community considers, analyzes and confronts the issues, challenges and complexities that affect all. As reports of powerful individuals abusing others flood our newsfeeds, Daya provided the opportunity for the community to channel outrage into action. In light of the recent news of sexual assault both nationally and here in Houston, Daya created a forum for the community to speak out against the pervasiveness and silence around sexual violence. Founding Board Member, Lakshmy Parameswaran, LPC welcomed the audience and discussed the definition of sexual assault and the role that silence plays in perpetuating the cycle of violence. Sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Societal stigma and victim blaming drive victims to keep their experience a secret. Parameswaran stressed that abusers must be held accountable, regardless of their position in the community, their fame, or their wealth. The blame for sexual assault should solely lie on the perpetrator.


Executive Director, Rachna Khare then led attendees in an interactive discussion on how to recognize some signs of sexual abuse, respond in ways that empower survivors, and refer survivors to a vast array of supportive services throughout the Greater Houston Area. Houston Police Department officers, Vaibhavi Patel and Monique Francis explained how the criminal justice system approaches adult sex crimes and provides comprehensive services throughout the process. Officers Kollean Himes and Ernest Slaughter explained the process for child sex crimes, emphasizing the Department’s commitment to keeping children safe. Child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Sindhu Idicula Giri spoke openly about the long-term mental health impact of sexual assault including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Armed with new knowledge, attendees worked in small groups to critically discuss scenarios they may encounter in the community and practice ways to effectively respond and take action against sexual assault. The expert speakers then convened on a multidisciplinary panel to take questions from the audience and speak candidly about the challenges that still remain. The seminar closed with a call to action from Khare, who reminded attendees that together law enforcement, mental health professionals, and community members have the power to fight back against sexual assault through a coordinated and system-wide approach.


About Daya
Now in its twenty-first year, Daya empowers south Asian survivors who are trying to break the cycle of domestic and sexual violence and reclaim their lives. Daya empowers survivors and the community by offering counseling and advocacy, promoting community awareness and by advocating at the policy level. Daya’s approach fosters individual freedom and respect leading to healthy families.

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