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Surviving in Numbers: A Sexual Assault Awareness Month Initiative

Recent media has capitalized on sexual assault. On March 17th, the verdict in the Steubenville rape case was announced, creating controversy that spread like wildfire across television stations, newspapers, and the Internet. Amherst College is still making headlines for an article concerning an on-campus sexual assault that was published last fall, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been under fire for similar accusations.  However, one very important event is missing from most media stories: coverage of 2013’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month — or, as we like to call it here at Conn, Sexual Assault Activism Month.

April 1st ushered in this year’s SAAM. Hosted annually, the month-long campaign aims to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence via education and advocacy. Communities, businesses, organizations, and individuals from around the world rise together to fight against the horrifying statistic: 1 in 4 women will be raped in her lifetime. 

Ali Safran, a junior at Mount Holyoke College, is no exception. Last October marked the third year anniversary of Safran’s own experience with sexual assault. She returned to the scene of the crime to post the following sign:

Posting her story inspired Safran to consider the statistics on sexual assault a bit more carefully.

“I thought about all the people I had told and how I’d reported to the police, gone through the legal process, done everything a victim is “supposed” to do…and still hadn’t gotten any real justice. It occurred to me that, while I considered my own total “number” (people I’d told) to be high, others must have had some experiences on the same spectrum,” Safran writes.

To reach out and connect with these other survivors, Safran launched “Surviving in Numbers,” a photo-based Tumblr. The site, launched in conjunction with the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, invites any and all survivors to submit photos detailing their stories, statistics, and experiences with sexual assault. The photographs on “Surviving in Numbers” are intentionally blurry, allowing anonymity for both the survivors and the institutions involved. Safran says that this anonymity powerfully illustrates that sexual assault is not confined to particular campuses. Rape can happen anywhere. And it does:

So, how can YOU get involved? Getting active in the movement to end sexual assault and violence is easy. Don a “Consent is Sexy” bracelet; proudly wear your white or teal ribbon. Attend some of Conn’s many Sexual Assault Activism Month events, sponsored by on-campus organizations such as the Think S.A.F.E. Project, Women’s Center, 1 in 4, and our Her Campus chapter. Share Safran’s blog; contribute to it if you want. Take initiative somehow. As Safran shows us, there’s strength in numbers.

Her Campus’ screening of Girl Rising, on April 12 at 7pm, is an official event of Sexual Assault Activism Month. You can RSVP on Facebook here.

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