Keeping Aware during Sexual Assault Awareness Month
by Christina Hays
Crisis Services of North Alabama and the Jackson County Coalition Against Domestic violence promote Sexual Assault Awareness Month every April. Usually, both organizations host events to help spread the word regarding sexual assault, unfortunately due to the pandemic and social distancing challenges these events will be taking place virtually rather than in person. The following are a few of the most important topics that we cover every year during this time: having conversations with people at risk for sexual assault, working to understand survivors and victims, requesting stricter punishment for offenders, and increasing bystander intervention. Some people struggle to empathize with survivors and understand how they can even help. Others might feel embarrassed to talk about sex and consent with people they feel may be at risk. These need to be addressed to help promote safety for everyone.
One way we find to connect with people is through popular platforms such as social media apps and streaming services. We can all help keep the topic of sexual assault relevant by sharing articles, reading survivors’ stories, watching docuseries, screening movies, and tuning into shows. During the pandemic we all have probably found ourselves spending more time on social media and streaming series and movies. While we indulge in our favorite entertainment we can also help to promote sexual assault awareness. Keeping this topic relevant all month is as easy as clicking follow or play.
Some of the campaigns we encourage everyone to follow on social media are local DV/SA programs such as Crisis Services of North Alabama and Jackson County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. There are also national organizations like RAINN, No More, and the NSVRC which will be sharing valuable facts and resources throughout April. Please check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and other social media sites for these pages.
Currently, Netflix has several series that depict sexual assault including the following: “13 Reasons Why”, “Roll Red Roll,” “Athlete A”, “Audrie & Daisy”, and “Unbelievable.” These are just a few that are available on Netflix currently and portray not only sexual assault but the need for more support for victim/survivors. Each of these movies and series depicts the need for better information regarding sexual assault in schools, in sports, and in the community.
Amazon Prime Video has several movies that depict sexual assault. “Beauty Mark” follows the life of a young, single mother who was assaulted by a prominent member of her local community. She struggles with poverty and PTSD symptoms throughout her life and never received the help she needed. “Alison,” a docudrama based on true events, details the brutal sexual assault of Alison Botha in South Africa. This film recounts the horrific attack of Alison while she was raped and left for dead on the outskirts of a nature reserve.
Hulu streams several movies and series that share stories of sexual assault. “The Rape of Recy Taylor” documentary tells the story of an African-American woman who was raped by seven white men in Alabama and her struggle with justice and safety. “A Teacher” drama series follows the inappropriate relationship of a female teacher and male high school student. The series shows the extent of the emotional trauma and struggle that lasts years into the young man’s future. This series highlights the importance of talking to young men about appropriate sexual relationships as well as consent.
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted or the victim of intimate partner violence please contact Crisis Services of North Alabama locally at 256-574-5826 or at our 24/7 HELPline at 256-716-1000. CSNA and Jackson County Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be sharing information regarding Sexual Assault Awareness Month regularly through the month of April. Please continue to look for articles and social media posts to help promote awareness.