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The importance of celebrating Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The importance of celebrating Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The importance of celebrating Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April 30
12:00 2022

Content warning: this article contains language and content related to sexual assault. Viewer discretion is advised.

April is sexual assault awareness month or, SAAM for short, and with it comes the chance to recognize all the survivors and victims’ hardships which typically go unrecognized. Part of the reason why SAAM remains disregarded is because we as a society don’t celebrate this month more vocally.

People have normalized sexual violence through music, media and entertainment. Many women over the course of time have been told to be quiet about this issue or have been victim shamed.

Some people do not believe victims of sexual assault and would make it seem as if they were the problem or did something to deserve such horrendous acts against them.  Therefore, SAAM is so important to so many victims. It allows them the opportunity to be heard and for those around them to be aware that they are a survivor. SAAM should be celebrated just like any other awareness month. However, it is not. This should be changed. 

Many people may ask, “How can we celebrate sexual assault awareness month?” The answer is not a simple one. We can bring awareness to this month’s celebration in a variety of ways: from simply raising dialogue about sexual violence, to how to prevent it and how to support those who are affected by it, as suggested by EndSexualViolence.org. Doing this ensures we are helping to end the normalization of sexual violence. This is essential so the next group of victims will not have to go through the stigma of being a victim of a sexual crime. 

Raise awareness: sexual violence has been normalized in our society for decades. Currently, with the help of the #MeTooMovement, many women are now able to tell their stories and experiences with sexual violence. People can raise awareness by having open conversations with those around them to help keep everyone informed about sexual assault and how it harms others. We should also have conversations with public officials and essential leaders that have the power to make changes through laws and policies.  

How to prevent it: sexual assault and violence can happen to anyone, no matter their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. There is no solid answer to preventing sexual assault or violence. However, there are some tips that we can use to help prevent sexual violence: being aware of your surroundings, knowing the warning signs, understanding consent, carrying pepper spray or a taser and practicing active bystander intervention.  

Support the victims: sexual assault and violence are serious crimes. Many victims can have long-term effects that can last a lifetime, it is essential to support and show love to the victims of these heinous crimes. We can help support victims of sexual crimes by remaining calm, being a listening ear, believing the victim, encouraging them to report the assault, maintaining confidentiality and allowing the correct authorities to deal with the assault.  

We can make SAAM become a normal celebration in the years to come. Everyone needs to do their part as a member of society to stop the negative stigma of this issue. Although April comes and goes, it is never untimely to support victims of sexual assault or to raise awareness. If anything, we need to do this year-round. It should not be a once-a-month thing to support victims and raise awareness of this issue. We are the generation that is saying no. We were able to say no to negative stigmas regarding race, gender and sexual orientation and raise awareness of those issues. We can do the same for sexual violence and assault victims. 

So in the following April, we will be able to celebrate SAAM in the appropriate way. Victims of a sexual crime who have been silenced can utilize this month to make their voices heard and tell their stories. No one should have to suffer in silence and we will put an end to silencing and victim shaming those who had to endure this act. 

Featured Illustration By J. Robynn Aviles

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Chelsie Burroughs

Chelsie Burroughs

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