Nationally, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.
This year, SAAM is celebrating its 15th anniversary with the theme “Prevention is possible” to help individuals, communities and the private sector understand how they can take action to promote safety, respect and equality to stop sexual assault before it happens.
Sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem.
o Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. This can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent.
o Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives, and 1 in 71 American men have experienced rape or attempted rape.
o Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence
victimization other than rape at some point in their lifetime.
o Sexual assault is a public health issue impacting women, men and children throughout their lives and can be devastating for individuals, families and communities.
o Victims of sexual assault often experience short-term consequences including guilt, shame, fear, numbness, shock and feelings of isolation. Victims may also experience long-term health risks and behaviors such as PTSD, eating disorders, depression, pregnancy and STI.
The good news is that prevention is possible and it’s happening.
o By promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies and healthy relationships, we can create safe and equitable communities where every person is treated with respect.
o Individuals, communities and the private sector are already successfully combatting the risk of sexual violence through conversations, programs, policies and research-based tools that promote safety, respect and equality.
o The ongoing increase in efforts to prevent sexual violence on college campuses – the focus of last year’s SAAM campaign – is a promising illustration of recent progress.
Sexual violence prevention requires many voices and roles. We’re calling on individuals, communities and the private sector to be a part of the solution by taking action during and beyond SAAM to create the cultural shift necessary to eliminate sexual violence once and for all.
Individuals can get involved by
o Intervening to stop harmful behavior;
o Promoting and modeling healthy attitudes, behaviors and relationships; and
o Believing and assisting survivors.
Communities can make a difference by
o Creating and strengthening policies to promote safety, equality and respect;
o Assessing the risks in their environment;
o Promoting respectful behaviors;
o Providing support for survivors;
o Holding those who harm others accountable and ensuring that appropriate treatment options are available.
The private sector can help by
o Promoting prevention and support for survivors through policies and education;
o Modeling healthy attitudes and relationships in engagement with clients and consumers;
o Promoting positive messages and behaviors through marketing campaigns and advertising content; and
o Investing funding to make sexual violence prevention a corporate social responsibility priority.
If you or someone you know has been abused or needs help, please call the police in your area.
If you would like to become a Rape Crisis Center volunteer, please call 431-5100.