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Honoring Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April 2016

April 8, 2016

Each year, April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). At the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), we support and honor anti-sexual assault work as an intrinsic part of working to end domestic violence, because domestic violence often includes sexual abuse. While the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone who is not a current or former partner of the victim, the root causes of all forms of gender-based violence are the same, so work to end one kind of victimization will have a positive impact and help end other forms of violence as well.

In all of your roles – in your personal life, at work, and in your community – you can take concrete steps to help prevent sexual assault and support survivors. To help raise awareness and get involved during SAAM, we recommend the following:

  • Start by believing.
  • Interrupt the prevailing narrative. Speak up when you hear people making excuses for perpetrators or negating the experiences of survivors.
  • Encourage healthy, respectful relationships of all kinds. Teach children and youth in your life to respect others and to appreciate differences in others. Model appropriate attitudes and behavior with children, partners, customers, students, and colleagues.
  • Expect accountability from those charged with holding offenders accountable. Inform others when their elected officials fail to support survivors or do not take sexual violence seriously.
  • Assess and address risks in your community. Support your state coalition and/or local program working to end sexual violence in your area. Join them in working with schools and institutions to address sexual violence. Support policies that promote safety and equality.
  • Take a stand. Join the discussion on social media and remember that Prevention is Possible. Participate in the #30DaysofSAAM campaign on Instagram.

The key to preventing gender-based violence is challenging social norms that allow these crimes to happen in the first place. The root causes are inextricably linked to other forms of oppression – sexism, racism, class bias, heterosexism, and more. Oppression promotes inequality and abuse of power over others, condones various forms of violence, and excuses harm. Challenging these attitudes is crucial to the promotion of equality and safety, and ending gender-based violence in all its forms.