Raise Awareness During SAAM

SAA-Month-2015-2The issue of sexual assault has been gaining awareness in recent months as more and more survivors are coming forward to tell their stories. Sexual assault is still a big problem in our country. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network):

  • Every day in the United States, there are 804 incidents of sexual assault.
  • That makes for about 293,000 victims of sexual violence every year.
  • One in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

We still have a long way to go towards ending sexual assault, but we believe that there is hope. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), we can all work together to create a culture of healthy relationships and end sexual violence. This month, RAINN is highlighting four steps to being an active bystander. Using the C.A.R.E. acronym, these steps emphasize the role of friends and loved ones taking action:

Create a distraction: Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place.

Ask directly: If you see someone who looks uncomfortable or is at risk, intervene and talk to the person who might be in trouble. If you feel safe, find a way to de-escalate the situation and separate all parties involved.

Refer to an authority: Keeping your friends safe doesn’t have to fall entirely on you alone. Sometimes the safest way to intervene is to involve someone who has more influence than you.

Enlist others: It can be intimidating to approach a situation alone. Enlist another person to support you. There is safety in numbers.

There are plenty of other ways to get involved during SAAM and speak out against sexual violence. Check out the list below, or visit or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for more info.

April 3: Speak out against victim-blaming on the International Day Against Victim Blaming. On social media use #IDAVB #EndVictimBlaming

April 8: Austin friends, join loveisrespect and many other organizations from 6:30-9 p.m at Take Back the Night on the Main Mall at UT Austin. Hosted by UT’s Voices Against Violence, this gender-inclusive event will serve to illuminate the movement to end sexual violence.

April 12-18: Participate in the It’s on Us Week of Action to raise awareness of college sexual assault. #Itsonus

April 29: Denim Day! Be sure to wear your denim and share the powerful story of this decades-long movement to end misconceptions and victim-blaming. #DenimDay.

All month: Check out RAINN’s 7 Ways to Take Action this April.

All month: Campuses and cities across the country will be screening The Hunting Ground film, which addresses campus sexual assault. Find a screening near you.

All month: Share your SAAM photos and news on Instagram with the NSVRC’s #30DaysofSAAM photo contest!

Additional resources:


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

SAAMThere is an average of 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. (via, U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey. 2008-2012.)

Nearly 1 in 10 women in the United States (9.4%) has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. (via

1 in 6 men has experienced sexual abuse before age 18. (via

The statistics are sobering, but as with all forms of abuse, they only tell us part of the story. There are countless instances of sexual assault and abuse that go unreported. It’s important to remember that while sexual assault happens disproportionately to females, anyone can be a victim.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), during which activists from all over the nation seek to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate individuals and communities about how to end it. This effort requires many voices – including yours! There are several ways you can get involved, and here are just a few:

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault and you need someone to talk to, contact the hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or chat online Monday through Friday, 9am-7pm CST. All contact is free, anonymous, and confidential.

Other resources:

National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE

National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at


Social Media Shaming: When Sexual Assault Goes “Viral”

“I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember…I just want this to go away.”

That was one of the last things 15-year-old Audrie Potts posted on her Facebook before taking her own life after a photo of her assault was circulated to nearly the entire high school. It’s a familiar feeling for the many girls whose names have been made into headlines throughout the past months.

Seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off of life support following an attempt to take her own life after a photo of her assault was distributed all over cell phones and social media sites.

In Torrington, Connecticut, two male 18-year-olds were arrested and accused of the statutory rape of two 13-year-old girls. What followed was an attack on the young girls over Twitter and social media and a trending “#FreeEdgar” hashtag in support of the perpetrators.

In Steubenville, Ohio, Jane Doe didn’t know she had been sexually assaulted until she found out about it through videos uploaded to YouTube and images posted on Instagram. When the case went public, backlash on social media against her, the victim, was relentless.

Lately we’ve seen social media channels become venues for public shaming and sharing information without ones consent to large numbers of people. “Viral” shaming adds a new dimension to an already horrific situation — continued emotional abuse from not just the perpetrator, but any outsider who decides to “share” or chime in. In this way, even after an assault a perpetrator can still exert control over their victim, making them feel powerless. It can feel impossible to know how to make it end, and it can feel like there’s nowhere to turn for safety and privacy.

What can you do as an online “bystander”?

While there are tips for “how to stop compromising pictures of you being published online,” these pictures and videos can get posted anyways without your knowledge or consent. The person who holds responsibility is the one who posts the content.

Responsibility also falls on bystanders — people who see the image being taken, see the assault in action, view the image online, distribute it, or even just pass it by. If you witness an assault, what do you do? If you’re sent a picture, do you pass it on? Do you join in on the actions or victim shaming just to be a part of the joke?

Begin to hold yourself and those around you accountable for what’s being said and posted. If you see something, report it. On Facebook, use the report link that appears near the content to send a message to have it removed. Twitter also has different forms for reporting a violation. YouTube has a “Safety Center” for requesting videos to be flagged or removed.

If you know someone who is involved in a situation of online abuse, ask how you can help. Offer to document the abuse (by taking screen shots or tracking where it’s showing up online). It can be helpful to be a third party keeping track of what’s being said and shared, especially if charges will be pressed.

As a Victim

Different states have specific laws, but no matter where you are, taking some type of legal action is always an option. Document the content, because it can be used as evidence. Contact the bar association in your state to find an attorney who specializes in Internet privacy and rights. The organization Without My Consent discusses different courses of action.

No matter what you decide to do, safety plan for your emotional well being as content is circulating. Know that you can ask for help and do ask for help, because it’s too much to take on alone, especially when it can feel like you’re up against the entire world.

Do you have a trusted coworker, friend or counselor you can talk to? Building a support system is important — and there’s always someone to turn to. You shouldn’t go through this whole process alone.

RAINN has many resources, including the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE, and they offer free, confidential advice 24.7.

In the wake of these all-too-similar stories, it’s easy to feel helpless. We can honor the victims of these and other tragedies by taking social responsibility seriously — holding ourselves and others accountable for what’s said or posted, and starting productive dialogues.

Social media is what we make of it, and we have the ability to make it a powerful tool for change and positivity.

Further Reading:

“Revenge Porn: The Fight Against The Net’s Nastiest Corner” by Adam Steinbaugh

“Criminalizing ‘Revenge Porn’” by Tracy Clark-Flory

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM)

Every two minutes, someone in this country is sexually assaulted. On average there are 207,754 victims of rape and sexual assault each year.

This April, join us in acknowledging and promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month. All across the country, people are taking a stand and promoting the prevention of sexual violence through educational speaker series, campaigns, online days of action and other events.

One of the most common misconceptions about sexual violence is that it involves a stranger. In reality, among female rape victims for example, 51.1% of perpetrators are reported to be intimate partners and 40.8% are acquaintances.

In a relationship that may be displaying signs of abuse, it’s not unlikely that sexual abuse or sexual coercion may be present. Like physical violence, sexual violence helps a batterer gain a sense of power and control. Sexual assault is any nonconsensual sexual act, physical or verbal, that goes against the victim’s will. It almost always involves a use of threat or force.

Coercion can take on many different forms. EX: Making a partner feel obligated to have sex (“Sex is the way you prove your love for me”) or reproductive coercion (tampering with or withholding birth control; pressuring you to become pregnant).

Have you or someone you know experienced any of the signs mentioned above? Call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to speak confidentially with an advocate. We can help you learn more about healthy relationships, consent, and types of coercion. We can safety plan with you at any stage, whether you’re questioning something going on, experiencing ongoing abuse, or otherwise.

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at 1-877-739-3895, or use RAINN’s Online Hotline.

Educate Your Community

Advocate at your local school for further education about healthy relationships. Speak at a board meeting and hold an informational meeting with parents, teachers and others interested in the issue.

Discuss consent – with your children, with your family, with your partner. The absence of a “No” never equals a “Yes.”

Speak Out Against Sexual Violence

Make your voice heard. Join #SAAM Tweet Ups every Tuesday of the month for different discussions about child sexual abuse prevention and how adults can promote healthy development.

Donate your social media accounts to the cause. Visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for downloadable logos, posters and images for Twitter and Facebook, education tools and other resources.

Volunteer at your local rape crisis center.

Read More

AAUW: Sexual Harassment

RAINN: Get Information

1 in 6: Info for Men

SAFER: Info about Campus Sexual Assault

Circle of 6 App: Healthy Relationships Toolkit

Men Can Stop Rape: Get Information

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Sexual Assault

Each year approximately 207,754 sexual assaults occur in the United States (RAINN). However, despite that astounding number, sexual assault is still not widely discussed.

To conclude Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please read this list of 10 things you might not know about sexual assault. Sexual assault is not just rape or attempted rape — it is any unwanted sexual contact or advances, preventing someone or being prevented from using birth control and/or rough or violent sexual behavior. Read the definition from The National Center for Victims of Crime to learn more.

1. One in every 10 sexual assault victims is male (RAINN).

2. Sexual assault occurs as often during the daytime as it does during the night (Stanford Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Prevention & Support).

3. Forty-four percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. Eighty percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 30 (RAINN).

4. Victims of sexual assault are more prone to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, trouble sleeping and anxiety disorders (CDC).

5. Two-thirds of assaults are perpetrated by someone whom the victim knows. Thirty-eight percent of rapists are a friend or acquaintance of the victim (RAINN).

6. Nearly one in four women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime (National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence).

7. Half of all sexual assaults happen within one mile of the victim’s home (RAINN).

8. Out of every 100 sexual assaults, only 46 get reported to the police. Out of those 46 reports, only 12 will lead to an arrest. Out of those 12 arrests, only nine attackers will be prosecuted.

9. Out of those prosecutions, only five will lead to a felony conviction. Despite those five convictions, only three of the perpetrators spend a single day in jail. That means that 97 attackers walk away unscathed (RAINN).

10. Some good news: the instances of sexual assault have decreased nearly 60 percent since 2000, although they are still staggeringly high (U.S. Department of Justice).

Despite the decrease in frequency over the past decade, sexual assault is still an extremely prevalent and pervasive crime in the United States. Please take a moment today to spread awareness about this critical issue.