Sexual Assault Awareness Month: What You Should Know
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and April 2021 marks 20 years since it officially began. Sexual assault is an unacceptable crime, and it is important to take steps to put an end to it. Thankfully, SAAM provides a way for us to spread this message, educate ourselves and others, and create a safe, supportive space for survivors.
What is SAAM?
SAAM is a core part of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC) efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault and put an end to sexual violence. Each year, over 321,500 men and women report being sexually assaulted. However, there are also many cases which go unreported. Survivors can find it difficult to talk about their stories due to feelings of shame, guilt, or fear. SAAM helps survivors know that they are not alone.
Additionally, SAAM provides useful ways for others learn more about sexual assault and how to provide support to survivors. Spreading awareness is crucial in the overall movement to prevent further incidents.
Each year, the NSVRC comes up with a new campaign theme for SAAM. This year’s “We Can Build” SAAM campaign focuses on building safe online spaces for everyone. Technology is already an important part of our everyday lives. COVID-19 pandemic conditions, including lockdowns and remote working, have meant we have had to connect online more than ever before.
As such, it is important to know that sexual assault and abuse can occur online. Online sexual assault and abuse can include things such as:
- Unwanted or hateful comments based on your sex
- A stranger or partner sending you unwelcomed requests for nude pictures or sexual videos
- Someone performing sexual acts via webcam or sharing porn without the consent of everyone present
- Conversations or conduct of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent
- “Revenge porn”, which is when someone shares private images or videos without the other person’s consent
Certain types of behavior are clear examples of online sexual assault, such as when someone sends a link to pornography or shares graphic images. Others might not seem so obvious, such as when someone sends an unwanted message on a dating app. The important reality to understand is that these types of behaviors are influenced by the same attitudes that lead to sexual violence, such as traditional norms regarding gender, or attempts to degrade others.
Sexual assault, no matter where it occurs, is unacceptable and never the survivor’s fault. It is important for survivors to know that the emotions they feel are valid, and that there is hope for anyone to heal from the trauma of sexual assault. SAAM campaigns can help provide an atmosphere of community and support, which helps survivors get involved and participate.
Get Involved & Informed
It is always inspiring to see the growing support SAAM gets each year. People from all over the country come together and contribute to help make a real difference in their communities and beyond. Here are some ways in which you can take part in furthering the NSVRC’s cause:
- Share Educational Resources: An important part of SAAM is helping others learn about sexual assault, so they can better understand what it is and how to help stop it. These guides from the NSVRC are also handy for learning about how to prevent online sexual assault and abuse.
- Show Your Support: There are many ways for you to get involved and show your support during SAAM. These can include using specific hashtags, taking part in virtual events, and wearing teal on the Day of Action (April 6).
- Explore Sexual Assault Resources: Here is a list of helpful sexual assault resources that we have put together. These resources provide support, guidance, and education on sexual assault, with many being located close to San Diego. The NSVRC also has a list of online resources for survivors to use to seek support.
- Tell Your Story: Sharing your own story can really help increase sexual assault awareness. Discussing these experiences, even if it is just with a friend or family member, does a lot to shed light on something which many keep hidden. It does not take much for small steps like these to build into full-on movements for change.
Reach Out for Assistance
Sexual assault, whether it occurs online or in-person, can cause survivors to feel alone, confused, and powerless. This is why our goal at The Pride Law Firm is to help survivors feel empowered once more by giving them the support they need to recover and heal. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault, then please contact us at (619) 516-8166 for a free, private consultation. Our team is here to help you every step of the way on your path towards justice.