For the past 20 years, the month of April has been dedicated to sexual assault awareness. Sexual assault is an issue that has plagued our society for centuries, however has only been brought to public attention in the past few decades. Advocacy surrounding sexual assault prevention began to gain popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, paired with the Civil Rights era. Originally, the main advocators of the sexual assault movement were women of color working towards both racial equality and gender equality. This movement continued to grow into the 1970s when the first rape crisis center was founded in San Francisco in 1971. However, this was only the beginning of the fight against sexual assault. The next big victory for advocators against sexual assault occurred in 1993 when the Violence Against Women Act, legislation with the intention to support survivors, was passed. Such actions showed the national actions being taken to promote and advocate for sexual violence prevention. In 2001, the month of April was deemed sexual assault awareness month, dedicated to educating about sexual assault and sexual assault prevent, as well as how we can work to support sexual assault victims.
In the United States nearly 1 in 5 women––18.3 percent––are raped at some point in their life. More than half of these victims report their rape being from an intimate partner and 40.8 percent by acquaintances. Furthermore, an estimate of 13 percent of women have experienced sexual coercion in their lifetime, ultimately leading to assault. Women are not the only victims of sexual assault: 1.4 percent of men in the United States have been raped at some point in their lives. Similarly to female victims, over half of male victims know their assaulter prior to the assault. Sexual assault is even more rampant on college campuses.
Statistics state the 13 percent of all students will experience rape or sexual assault through physical violence, at some point during the undergrad experience. Of the female population, 26.4 percent will experience a form of sexual assault and 6.8 percent of the male student body. Furthermore, 5.8 percent of students will experience some form of stalking during their time at university. Yet another sad statistic surrounding the sexual assault on college campuses is most go unreported for fear of social rejection or personal humiliation.
As college students there are steps we can take working to help prevent sexual assault. The first is to educate yourself about the harsh reality of sexual assault on college campuses. Through education you will be able to become more aware of unsafe situations that may be occurring on campus. Lastly, you can act as an ally for those who have been assaulted and remember to always believe the victim. Together we can work to create a world where people do not have to be fearful of walking home alone at night. We can create a society where people feel safe.