April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This annual campaign raises awareness about sexual assault by educating and informing the public on how to prevent sexual violence. The 2018 SAAM theme is Embrace Your Voice,” meaning “our words shape the world around us. How we talk about sexual violence matters. Once engaged, how can individuals and communities use their voice to make a true impact and become an agent for change?”  

This amazing campaign encourages communities and individuals to embrace their voice in many ways including: providing and practicing consent in all situations, speaking out against gender norms and stereotypes, and engaging in bystander intervention of sexual violence. It is important to recognize that your voice matters and you can truly make a different by having an active role in sexual assault prevention. You can make a meaningful change by “asking for consent, respecting boundaries and believing survivors.” This is a step in the right direction when it comes to  understanding sexual assault and having open and healthy communication with those around you. It is incredibly important to recognize that sexual assault happens in every community; sexual violence is “any type of unwanted sexual contact – including sexual assault and rape” and it can include “words and actions like sexual harassment, catcalling, and non consensual sharing of private images.” (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Anyone can experience sexual violence, including teens, children, adults and seniors; every 98 seconds someone in this country is sexually assaulted. 

Oftentimes, a victim of sexual violence knows the person who sexually assaulted them, but that is not always the case. A person may not report sexual assault, and the healing process for every victim is different. It is so important to know and recognize that a victim is never to be blamed for experiencing sexual violence, no matter what they said and what they were wearing or drinking. Whether you know a survivor of sexual violence or not, you can support these individuals by being active about preventing sexual violence not only in the month of April, but throughout your life. Victims of sexual assault should know that you are supporting them by using your voice to make strides toward ending this issue and educating those around you. 

Here is the link to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to learn more about Sexual Assault Awareness Month!