April 2023 marks the 22nd anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Specifically, the campaign draws attention to the prevalence of sexual assault and educates individuals and communities on how to prevent it. This year, the theme of SAAM is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.”
How Prevalent is Sexual Assault?
Sexual violence and harassment impacts nearly every family and community. According to research:
- Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted
- More than 1 in 3 (33%) women experience sexual violence
- More than 1 in 4 (25%) men experience sexual violence
This April, the SAAM campaign is drawing attention to the fact that systems of oppression (such as racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism) contribute to higher rates of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. As such, certain groups of people are more likely to be sexually assaulted.
This year’s SAAM campaign calls on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect for all. Statistics show:
- Women of color disproportionately experience sexual violence
- More than 1 in 4 (29%) non-Hispanic Black women are raped
- More than 4 in 5 (84.3%) American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence
- More than 1 in 3 Hispanic women (34.8%) reported unwanted sexual contact
Additionally, nearly half (47%) of all transgender people in America experience sexual violence. And for adults with intellectual disabilities, nearly 1 in 3 adults (32.9%) have experienced sexual violence. We have also recently blogged about the rise of sextortion cases against minors.
How to Raise Sexual Assault Awareness
The best way to raise awareness about the prevalence and prevention of sexual assault is to start a conversation. For example, you can start a conversation by hosting a documentary viewing party. Suggested movies include The Hunting Ground and Audrie and Daisy, which are available on Netflix.
Alternatively, you can start a reading group including books like Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke or Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding. Additionally, sharing posts on social media about the prevalence of sexual violence and prevention strategies can also bring attention.
Most importantly, you can call out rape culture. For example, let someone know that their joke about rape is not funny. If you hear someone victim blaming, let them know that nobody deserves to be a victim of sexual violence. Sometimes, people don’t even realize their words can have consequences about how people view sexual assault and victims. Try saying, “What did you mean by that?” or “How would you feel if that happened to you?”
Resources for Victims and Survivors
If you’ve been a victim of any crime, call 911 or your local police department.
Alternatively, you can reach out to NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline by calling 800-942-6906, texting 844-997-2121, or chatting at www.opdv.ny.gov. The hotline is free, confidential, and available in most languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Additionally, you can provide sexual violence service providers in your area at https://opdv.ny.gov/sexual-violence-service-providers. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) also has additional information and resources on its website at www.rainn.org.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center, About SAAM 2023. Available at: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam (last accessed Apr. 7, 2023).
- NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Available at: https://opdv.ny.gov/april-sexual-assault-awareness-month (last accessed Apr. 7, 2023).
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