April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Today is a guest post from one of the other members of our affiliate who also works with a gender studies department at a local college.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).  Like all campaigns, that means lots of ribbons (teal, in this case) and some local events listed below, but what does this month really mean?

The national campaign officially began in 2001, but it has its roots in locally-organized events going back to the first Take Back the Night marches in 1976.  While there are a number of different types of activism that take place in April, sexual assault is one of the issues where “awareness” is still a very necessary step in getting us to a place where we can organize effectively.  Since over half of all sexual assaults don’t get reported, it’s a huge problem that doesn’t get discussed as much as other less common crimes.  While statistics don’t always address the full scope of what falls under sexual assault, 1 in 6 women, 1 in 33 men, and 1 in 2 trans* people will experience rape or attempted rape during our lives.

Statistically, this means that even if we haven’t been assaulted, we all know people who’ve been raped. This is an issue that affects everyone.  And like the numbers show, this isn’t just a ‘women’s problem,’ even though it can get treated that way.

Making sure that the scope of this issue gets appreciated is a big part of SAAM.  But in addition to bringing attention to this issue, many groups are shifting the focus of this month to be Sexual Assault Awareness and Activism Month.  There are a lot of projects and programs around this, ranging from victim advocacy to bystander training to broad campaigns to help eradicate rape culture.

That last one is particularly important to me because this month brings a lot of light onto great programs to help people learn how to protect themselves, how to minimize risk, and how to deal with bad situations.  While those are all really important, they don’t address the fact that sexual assault survivors aren’t the ones who’ve created the problem of sexual assault – rapists, abusers and assaulters have done that.

The poster below is one of my favorites when it comes to this arm of sexual assault prevention – this is one of the few ‘tip sheets’ where I can say with certainty that if we all followed its instructions, we would end the problem of sexual assault today. (Thanks to Tumblin Feminist for creating it, and the US Navy (of all things) for making it more widely disseminated.)

Stop Sexual Assault PosterResources for survivors

National
RAINN
Survivor Project

Local
CARE (Charlotte)
Peace River Center (Hardee, Highlands & Polk)
The Dawn Center (Hernando)
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay (Hillsborough)
ACT (Lee)
Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc. (Pasco)
Suncoast Center (Pinellas)
Manatee Glens (Manatee)
SPARCC (Sarasota & DeSoto)

Activism / Events

National
Circle of 6
Project Unbreakable (trigger warning – this project is about people using art to reclaim words that were used against them when they were assaulted.  It can be very powerful, but is a very emotionally charged space.)

Local
New College of Florida events (Sarasota)
Tampa and Manatee events

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