2022 Sexual Assault Awareness Month
by Teresia Smith
This year marks the 21st Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The first ever SAAM was held in 2001. We would like to take a moment to celebrate all the accomplishments and continued progress of raising awareness through supporting events throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month every year. Organizations around the world will host events and displays all through April that are thought provoking and challenge people to have those meaningful conversations.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) chose to focus on online safety this year and SAAM’s theme is “Building Safe Online Spaces Together.” They will be working to promote online communities centered on respect, inclusion, and safety. It is important to end sexual harassment, assault, and abuse online and offline. For mor information on what NSVRC is doing for SAAM please visit their website at nsvrc.org/SAAM.
The most important conversations to have regarding sexual violence should be about prevention, education, and supporting survivors. This topic does not have to be scary or uncomfortable when presented in the right way. Everyone can participate in spreading facts regarding sexual violence and ways that it can be prevented. Following social media campaigns to help spread awareness is a great way to educate yourself and your community about facts and to increase the likelihood of bystander intervention.
What do we mean by bystander intervention? If you see something say something has been encouraged for years. If you are at a party and see someone struggling grab some friends and help that person. Making your presence known and a show of more than one witness can often deter a person from continuing any plans of violence.
Stopping violence before it happens is the ultimate goal. If you go out with a group of friends make sure your group stays together and leaves together. Designate a meeting place before anyone separates to ensure that your friends will know to come look for you if you are not there at the discussed time. Safety planning before an outing will ensure that everyone can have a good time without worrying about what to do if something happens.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center statistics page shares that one in five women report completed or attempted rape in their lifetime with one in three stating that it happened between the ages of 11 and 17. NSVRC also reports that one in four men will experience rape or attempted rape during their lifetime between the ages of 11 and 17. These statistics show that we need to be educating our children at an earlier age what body safety is and ensuring they know how to get and stay safe.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of intimate partner violence or sexual assault, please contact Crisis Services of North Alabama for free, confidential services. Crisis Services can be reached locally at 256.574.5826 or at our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000. You can also visit our website at csna.org.