Feronians, it’s April once again, which means it’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. A big part of why SAAM exists is because we don’t often talk about sexual assault – for every Steubenville or Delhi case that involves a prosecution and spurs widespread discussion, there are thousands of assaults that pass by without comment, and without legal consequence.
On the one hand, this year seems like it’s had a lot of good conversations about this topic – and thinking back to 2001, when the national campaign officially began, I think that there’s a ton of progress that we can see. Watching commentators like Melissa Harris-Perry proclaim their support for rape survivors on air and hearing Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard tell survivors ‘we hear you, you’re valued and you’re believed’ as Australia begins an inquiry into child sexual abuse is amazing, and isn’t something that I think we would have seen 12 years ago.
We’ve also seen new approaches in assault prevention that are moving away from the old framing – how potential victims of assault can protect themselves – to how to prevent assaults more broadly. These range from videos about how you should treat people who’ve passed out (don’t assault them, do get them a blanket) to broader campaigns on what bystanders can do. (Trigger warning – that video focuses on an evening leading up to an assault, and various ways that bystanders could have made a difference).
But I also know that these still aren’t the norm when it comes to talking about assault. When multiple CNN commentators spoke to how difficult life will be for two young men convicted of rape, without expressing any similar concern for their victim, many people got upset, but CNN never responded. Judges, educators and journalists still focus on how to change what women wear as a way to control men.
So, in honor of the strides we’ve made, and with an eye towards the work that still needs to be done, here’s some more information on activism opportunities this month, locally and nationally:
Activism / SAAM Events
One Student – based out of the Tampa area, this group focuses on campus strategies for preventing sexual violence
Project Unbreakable (trigger warning – this project involves survivors reclaiming words that were used against them through art. It can be very powerful, but is a very emotionally charged space.)
Resources for survivors
Peace River Center (Hardee, Highlands & Polk)
The Dawn Center (Hernando)
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay (Hillsborough)
Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc. (Pasco)
Suncoast Center (Pinellas)
Manatee Glens (Manatee)
SPARCC (Sarasota & DeSoto)