End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)
Suggested Guidelines on Language Use for Sexual Assault
Kimberly A. Lonsway, PhD
Sergeant Joanne Archambault (Ret.)
Updated October 2020
We all know that words matter, and this can be especially true when we are talking about sexual assault. In this training bulletin, we are sending out a document that was originally developed to provide guidance on language use for the authors and editors of Sexual Assault Report, a publication that we co–edited for five years. (We are currently in the process of editing our last issue and passing the torch of leadership to others.)
Because this document is likely to be helpful to just about anyone working in this field, we have adapted it for this purpose. We believe these recommendations for language use can improve our verbal and written communications as professionals in the field, helping us to provide information in ways that maximize our accuracy and clarity – and to avoid common tendencies that can create confusion, perpetuate misinformation, and
contribute to a climate of doubt and victim blame.