NNEDV Recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month [April 2017]
April 10, 2017
Each year, April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) recognizes anti-sexual assault work as an intrinsic part of working to end domestic violence, since domestic violence often includes some form of sexual violence. 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.
You can take concrete steps to help prevent sexual assault and support survivors. Here are just a few ways to get involved and raise awareness during SAAM:
- Start by believing. Believe survivors when they disclose that they have been victimized. Ask how you can be supportive and listen. You can share your support by coloring and sharing a “Believe Survivors” page from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).
- Interrupt the prevailing narrative. Speak up when you hear people making excuses for perpetrators or discounting survivors’ experiences. Use our 10 Tips to Have an Informed Conversation about Domestic Violence tip sheet to help erase the stigma around domestic and sexual violence.
- Encourage healthy, respectful relationships of all kinds. Teach the next generation to respect others and to appreciate differences by modeling appropriate attitudes and behavior. Download our coloring pages, like Hummingbirds for Healthy Relationships, to help facilitate these conversations.
- Expect accountability from those tasked with holding offenders accountable. Inform your community when their elected officials fail to support survivors or do not take sexual violence seriously. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper – keep in mind our 5 Tips for Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor and use our template Letter to the Editor as a starting place.
- Assess and address risks in your community. Support your state coalition and/or local programs working to end sexual violence in your community. Join them in working with schools and institutions to address sexual violence. Advocate for and support policies that promote safety and equality.
- Be a voice. Join the discussion on social media by participating in the #30DaysofSAAM campaign on Instagram.
- Get involved. Learn more about ways to get involved during SAAM from NSVRC.
The key to preventing gender-based violence is to challenge social norms that allow these crimes to take place. The root causes are inextricably linked to other forms of oppression such as 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 ultimately ending violence in all its forms.