April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a time to work together as a community to stand against violent sex crimes. This month provides a special opportunity to support victims of this crime by becoming educated on the devastating impact of assault as well as the preventative measures we can implement to prevent future assaults from occurring. The theme this year is, “It’s Time… To Talk About it!” By participating in SAAM events and starting a network of conversations that spans our whole state, we can make the most of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a relatively new development, having been established in the late 1980’s by the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) as the ideal time for activists to focus their attention on sexual violence. Between 2000 and 2001, SAAM events became more concentrated in the month of April. As a result, in 2001, April was
nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Understanding the destructive effects of sexual assault is vital to helping survivors cope in our state and beyond. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly one in five women and one in 71 men in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives.
Our family, friends, and neighbors of all ages have been hurt by these crimes, and unfortunately, these statistics are underestimates because many of these crimes go unreported. Having open conversations about sexual assault encourages victims to report crimes that adversely impact our community. Any stigma associated with assault can be mitigated through conversation, helping victims to seek out the care they need to begin healing.
At the local level, a joint venture between Children’s Hospital and the Sojourner Family Peace Center was recently announced in Milwaukee. The plan involves the construction of a Family Justice Center to serve families and victims dealing with domestic violence. I fully support this project believing it to be consistent with the spirit of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Center’s completion is anticipated to be in 2015 and I look forward to witnessing its promotion of health and safety for families in Wisconsin.
Those who are looking to learn more about how to prevent sexual assault as well as help victims cope, please consult the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. NSVRC provides details on how to promote healthy sexuality, and “better identify risks, support healthy boundaries and challenge negative messages.” They also regularly add updates about SAAM events including the SAAM Day of Action on April 2, 2013