By: Alyssa Evans, WAR, Int’l Intern
The month of April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as, “Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” With the rise in awareness, sexual violence has decreased by 63% since 1993 (RAINN, 2015). By dedicating an entire month to this issue, the aim is to keep that number continually decreasing. The reality is that too many people still suffer from sexual assault.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. Furthermore, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old (Center for Child Abuse and Neglect).
Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) takes global action against sexual assault and violence by restoring those already affected by these crimes and preventing at-risk women from suffering these injustices. WAR, Int’l fights these crimes year-round, but we ask that you join us in spreading awareness of sexual assault this month.
As women in the late 1970s began “Take Back the Night” marches, protesting the violence women faced when walking down the streets at night, the movement caught global attention. By the early 1980s, October was originally designated as assault awareness month, with its main focus being domestic violence. Eventually, activists wanted a separate month to raise awareness for sexual assault of any and every kind.
In July 2000, The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) was opened, and began surveying several different sexual assault coalitions to dedicate another month, as well as a symbol, to the cause. Finally, they decided on a week in April and a teal ribbon to represent the movement. Yet, attention and awareness grew significantly, and in 2001, April was nationally recognized by the U.S. government as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAPM).
Since then, the NSVRC has chosen yearly topics for SAAM to shine a spotlight on. Examples of past themes include sexual assault in communities, the workplace, and college campuses, child sexual assault, preventing sexual assault, training bystanders, and building healthy relationships. This year, the focus is on “Engaging New Voices,” because, as the NSVRC states, “We can’t reach everyone. But we can identify key leaders who will; leaders whose influence is necessary in achieving cultural change not just in April, but all year long.”
Their goal is to reach influential community leaders such as members of Greek Life, coaches, parents, and faith leaders to prevent sexual assault by changing our culture and social norms that allow it to exist. The NSVRC writes, “We’re strongest when we raise our voices together, and that’s why we’re engaging new groups in the movement. These groups can help the next generation foster attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality, and respect. These new voices will have a ripple effect on those that they teach, guide, and influence.”
If you’re interested in joining the fight against sexual assault, consider attending and advertising for a local SAAM event, sending a letter to your local newspaper editor, or using your voice to change our culture’s current perception of sexual assault.
In addition to these actions, WAR, Int’l has a Speak Up jewelry line that promotes conversation about having a voice, preventing sexual assault and empowering women. But, the best part about purchasing any of the products in our store is that each item directly supports at-risk women around the world!
Join us in preventing sexual assault this month as we seek to restore the lives of the vulnerable globally. Share articles, write letters, or purchase products that truly make a difference.