April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM). SAAM is a yearly campaign that aims to increase awareness about the causes and risk factors for sexual assault and empower individuals to take steps to prevent it in their communities.
April 2022 marks the official 21st anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual Assault Awareness Month traces its history to the 1970s, when activists first began organizing ways to reduce sexual assault and violence against women. Advocates fought tirelessly to bring a topic once taboo for public discussion out of the shadows and shed light on the widespread problem of sexual assault. But we still have a long way to go.
In the early 2000s, the primary goal of SAAM was awareness — both raising visibility of the teal ribbon and the meaning behind it. By the mid-2000s, SAAPM incorporated prevention more heavily, focusing on areas such as communities, workplaces, and college campuses. These campaigns discussed ways that individuals and communities can stop sexual assault before it happens by changing behaviors and promoting respect.
In 2001, the first official Sexual Assault Awareness Month brought the issue into public consciousness and reinvigorated a national network of events and support groups that raise awareness and provide resources to survivors and those at risk.
The first Tuesday of every April is the SAAPM Day of Action. The Day of Action is an opportunity to start off the month with highly visible and coordinated actions. You can choose to show your support in a variety of ways, such as those suggested by the Natinoal Sexual Violence Resource Center. Through the sumple prompts suggested on their calendar, you will signaling that you support survivors, and are a safe person to talk to if they need to reach out. You can access the entire calendar here:
How can YOU prevent sexual assault?
Participate in We Will's campaigns such as our Sexual Assault Awareness Walk and 5K, register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-third-annual-sexual-assault-awareness-walk-and-second-annual-5k-tickets-291315491477
Spread the word on social media about the importance of this cause. Share what sexual assault prevention and survivor empowerment looks like to you and why you support sexual assault awareness and prevention month.
Support legislation that seeks to extend sexual assault prevention education in schools, such as education that includes consent, coercion, refusal skills, deterrence, empathy, and more. Through education we can prevent an estimated 500,000 sexual assaults each year.
Teach others about consent and know consent yourself. Consent is an enthusiastic, informed, knowledgeable and freely-given agreement. Consent does not exist if someone says “maybe later”, “not right now”, “I’m not comfortable with that,” “I’m scared,” “I’m not ready,” and many other similar phrases. It also is not consent if the individual cannot speak for themselves, for example, drunk or passed out.
Learn and teach how to respond if someone is being pressured. Learn the risk factors and to protect one another. Do your best to develop refusal skills and boundaries, but remember that no form of assault is ever your fault.
Learn how to support someone who wants to report an assault to law enforcement. While there may be a limitation for time to file charges, there is no limitation on when a survivor can report a crime to police.
Learn how to support someone who has been assaulted and follow the healing journey that feels right to them. If they are comfortable with it and if the situation deems it necessary, contact emergency services or local police with the survivor. Do your best to with them to their medical appointments if they ask.
Determine how you will respond if someone opens up to you about a sexual assault. Suggested reactions include: tell the survivor you believe them, ask how you can help them, check in with them regularly, thank them for trusting you, laud them for their bravery, listen without judgement and more.
Donate funds to organizations or purchase merchandise from organizations working to end sexual assault. We suggest We Will, RAINN, and NSVRC.
Donate your time and become a volunteer with a national, state, or local organization focused on sexual assault prevention and survivor empowerment. We suggest the above-listed organizations as well as colleges, local shelters, and resource centers.
Our mission is: "We will prevent sexual assault and empower survivors
through formal and informal education, community growth, and survivor
support.” We hope that you will join us in making a difference during Sexual
Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (and all year long). Together, we can support
survivors and change the way our communities respond to sexual violence.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network -- www.rainn.org.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center https://www.nsvrc.org/
WomensHealth.gov -- www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety