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NNEDV Recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April

April 1, 2015

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Here at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), we recognize the hard work done every day by the dedicated staff and volunteers at sexual assault centers around the country and at dual programs that serve both domestic violence and sexual assault victims. In order to understand the complexities of domestic violence, you have to understand sexual assault.

Although every victim’s experience is unique, it is common for abusers to force their partners to have sex when they don’t want to. Abusers often feel they are entitled to sex from their partners at any time simply because they are in a relationship or married. Fortunately, the law does not agree with that view; having sex with someone without their consent is rape. Victims often struggle with this as our society is saturated with confusing messages about sex within relationships. They may believe that sex is an obligation within a relationship, even if they don’t want to do it, and they don’t want to think of the person they love as a rapist – a criminal.

In addition to sexual assault, many survivors of domestic violence have been raped or molested at other times in their lives. The sexual touching of a young girl by an older boy in the neighborhood…being isolated and raped at a college party by that older student who seemed so nice… These experiences are shockingly common among any group of women, and domestic violence victims are no exception. And just like domestic violence offenders, sex offenders commit their crimes to gain power and exert control over another person.

For any community to provide a complete range of services to domestic violence victims, it is essential that advocacy, support, and counseling on sexual assault experiences be readily available. We depend on our sister advocates in the anti-sexual assault movement, and honor the work they do every day by commemorating Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) this April.