A campus climate survey conducted last year found that almost one in four undergraduate women “experienced some form of sexual assault and misconduct at 33 of the nation’s major universities,” according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually asaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Among various national designations for this month, one of the most important for April is that it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). People of all identities have been a target of sexual assault, which is an unfortunate concern on many college campuses.
“The goal of SAAM is for individuals and organizations to raise public awareness about sexual harassment, assault, and abuse and educate communities on how to prevent it,” NSVRC’s campaign guide introduction reads. “Since consent is a clear, concrete example of what it takes to end sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, this year’s campaign shares the message that asking for consent is a normal and necessary part of sex.”
The campaign theme for this year is on asking for consent, “because [it] is a healthy, normal and natural part of every seuxal encounter.” NSVRC asks those looking to participate in the campaign to use #IAsk in their social media posts, and offers specific resources to share with the people around you, such as a “Consent Guide,” prevention handout and social media graphics. The center shares a “Consent Quiz”, which tests how much you may know about the basics of consent.
“It’s impossible to prevent an issue no one knows about, and it’s difficult to make people aware of a problem without providing a solution,” NSVRC says about the importance of both awareness and prevention for SAAM, which is being commemorated for the 19th year. Movements for social change and equity in the mid-20th century during the civil rights era, championed by Black women and women of color, gave rise to “wide social activism around the issue of sexual assault” in the 1970s.
NSVRC invites people to participate in SAAM Day of Action today by wearing teal “as a conversation starter for important issues about consent, respect and supporting survivors,” as described in the campaign booklet. Since the month is being commemorated inside this year, sharing a selfie wearing teal with #SAAM, #IAsk and #Teal are ways you can safely show solidarity.
Without the ability to host events in person, NSVRC is hosting #30DaysofofSAAM Instagram Challenge with a calendar of daily prompts to participate and post, like sending a message of thanks to someone you know or in the public eye that is working to end sexual violence.
On the center’s website (there are resources available for survivors, friends and family, advocates, educators and the media. The center has also compiled a specific resource to access during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the required social distancing, many people may be left in unsafe environments at home, who may benefit from NSVRC’s information about domestic violence, child sexual assault, self-care for survivors and housing and homelessness concerns.
RAINN also offers a bounty of information for those looking to spread awareness and information about prevention, as well as further resources about safety and prevention. Their 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline is confidential and can be called at 800-656-HOPE, or through chat.
The Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence (The Alliance) offers local resources on their website and advocates available 24/7 through their statewide hotline: 1-888-999-5545 for English assistance and 1-888-568-8332 for those who know somebody who would prefer to receive assistance in Spanish. The Alliance also shares their services and support during the COVD-19 crisis.
Hollie Lao is a staff writer and the social media manager for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.