April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During this time advocates work to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate communities around the nation about how to prevent sexual assault.
This year’s campaign, It’s Time to Talk About It, focuses on healthy sexuality and encourages people to discuss how we can respect one another in order to prevent sexual violence. It’s Time To Talk About It will provide tools and resources to promote positive expressions of sexuality and healthy behaviors.
SAAM has been a nationally recognized event since the early 2000s, but it was many years in the making.
In the late 1970s women began working to “Take Back the Night” in response to the violence that was being experienced while walking through city streets after sundown. The initial female-only protests were meant to share information about sexual assault with the communities they took place in. By the 1980s these sexual assault awareness activities had expanded to include the issue of violence against women. It wasn’t long before these activities expanded even more and encompassed violence against men, and males began participating to raise awareness.
In the late 1980s, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault began developing interest in selecting a designated time period to promote awareness. An informal poll of sexual assault coalition agencies revealed that April would be a suitable month, and the national Sexual Assault Awareness Week was established.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that this week was expanded to an entire month. In April of 2001, SAAM as we know it was celebrated for the first time.
Each year the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) works to coordinate SAAM activities nationwide. The organization provides resources to advocates nationwide to help them plan and facilitate their programs during the month.
Over the last few years, the NSVRC has placed increasing emphasis on the prevention of sexual violence. As a result, the SAAM campaigns have been increasingly geared toward educating young people.
The goal of this month is to build safe, healthy and respectful relationships.
For more information or to find out how you can get involved, please visit the SAAM/NSVRC website.