Since 2001, April has been nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Across the country, college campuses, women’s centers, businesses, and government agencies plan events during the month of April to raise public awareness about sexual assault and rape, while also promoting prevention efforts, like consent workshops.
But despite the fact that people have been hosting sexual assault awareness events since the late 1970s, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). More than 90% of these people do not report the assault.
This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, bring awareness to your campus or home community with some of these ideas to help work towards a world without sexual assault.
Host or Attend a Take Back the Night Rally
Take Back the Night (TBTN) is a national organization with humble roots. Back in the 1970s, the first Take Back the Night rallies were held in San Francisco to protest pornography and in October 1975 to protest the murder of Susan Alexander Speeth, a microbiologist who was stabbed to death while walking home alone.
Today, TBTN is an international nonprofit organization that works to “end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse, and al other forms of sexual violence” through awareness events and other initiatives.
Over 600 campuses and communities across the globe participate in TBTN. See if your college or local women’s center is hosting one in your community. If they’re not, visit Take Back the Night’s website to learn more about TBTN and how to host your own rally.
Participate in Denim Day
In the 1990s, a young woman in Italy was raped by her driving instructor. When she and her parents took the case to court, the perpetrator was sentenced to jail, but appealed his case. The case made it to the Italian Supreme Court, which decided that because the young woman was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove them and, therefore, consented to the act.
Until 2008, this “denim defense” existed as a defense to rape charges.
Every year on Denim Day, people across the world wear jeans to show solidarity with sexual assault survivors and in order to raise awareness. This year, it is Wednesday, April 26.
Find out how you can register, find an event near you, and order your own Denim Day materials here.
Support Organizations Working to End Sexual Assault
Organizations like End Rape on Campus (EROC), the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), and NSVRC work every day to end sexual assault. During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, support these organizations by donating, participating in their events, or volunteering. EROC even has an Amazon Wishlist, where you can purchase and donate supplies directly to their organization.
You can also contact your local women’s or rape crisis center. As nonprofits, most of these organizations rely on community help and donations for survival.
Talk About It
One of the most important ways to raise awareness about sexual assault is to talk about it. Speaking out about personal stories or sharing statistics and prevention techniques is a key way to let people know just how serious sexual assault is as an issue. You can also follow sexual assault awareness organizations on social media and share their posts with your friends and followers.
Sexual assault is a serious issue, but we can all play a role in creating a future where it no longer exists.