In the United States, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, otherwise known as SAAM. The goal of the month is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it. Since 2001, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has supported SAAM organizers with resources and training and 2016 is no different.This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign focuses on the building blocks of prevention by discussing how individuals, societies, and the private sector may take action to promote safety, respect, and equality.
Sexual violence is a serious social injustice, a violation of human rights and a public health issue that requires everyone’s help in order to cease it. Just last year the NSVRC reported that 46.4% lesbians, 74.9% bisexual women and 43.3% heterosexual women reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes, while 40.2% gay men, 47.4% bisexual men and 20.8% heterosexual men reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes.
Sexual violence is a pandemic issue, but prevention is possible. Prevention requires many voices and roles. The SAAM campaign promotes the components of prevention. Individuals, communities, and the private sector can all take action to promote safety, respect, and equality.
As individuals, all of us have a role to play in creating safe environments. We can all intervene to stop concerning behavior, promote and mold healthy attitudes and relationships, and most importantly believing survivors and helping them in finding support.
Communities and organizations can serve as leaders in prevention by creating and bolstering policies to promote safety, respect and boundaries, providing support for survivors and holding those who harm others accountable for their actions, while ensuring that they get appropriate help.