Sadly, there are tens of millions of Americans who bear the trauma of sexual assault. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is the time to stand with survivors, show support, advocate, and change the culture that has allowed this violence to continue on for much too long.
History of Sexual Assault Awareness Month
The background of Sexual Assault Awareness Month can be traced back to the early 1970s when the first rape crisis center in the US was opened in California, and then in 1975 when the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape was founded. By 1976, various protests and rallies, such as Take Back the Night, were organized by those who were protesting against the violence and fear that women experience simply walking down the street in the dark.
The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) first began actively promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Week. And by the 1990s, advocates and organizers used April as a time to raise awareness about sexual violence awareness and prevention.
The first official Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) took place in 2001. The purpose behind the day is to encourage advocates, survivors, and the community to come together around this common cause with the intention of creating conversations, increasing knowlege, and improving prevention strategies against sexual assault and violence.
In more recent years, the Day of Action for SAAM has been held annually on the first Tuesday of the month.
How to Observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Show support for survivors and work to prevent more violence by getting involved with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Get started with some of these ideas for participating in this thirty day event:
Share Resources Against Sexual Violence
Survivors, advocates and the community at large can fight against sexual assault partially by raising awareness and getting resources into more hands. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides a wide range of free resources and tools that help individuals and groups at various levels. If a friend is in need of help following a sexual assault, get access to help through the confidential crisis hotline at RAINN.
Host a Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign
This is the right time for schools and universities, community support groups, churches and many others to get involved with raising awareness about this important topic and bringing stories to light. Whether large or small, events can be tailored around informing the community while providing opportunities for survivors to get access to the care and resources they may need.
Check the National Sexual Violence Resource Center website for more information and annual campaign resources to promote awareness events. Online activities include reading the SAAM Proclamation, participating in Instagram contests, opportunities to create memes and more.
Read the Proclamation on Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Those who are intersted in learning more about the support the federal government in the US gives to this topic can observe SAAM by reading the proclamation. In 2023, the proclamation was signed by President Biden and states that freedom from sexual assault is a “basic human right”.