Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Rilee Bone, Editor

This April marks the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness month, but its history goes back even farther. The movement to end sexual violence dates back to the 1940s and 1950s during the civil rights era and was created to bring awareness to the fact that sexual assault and abuse does happen because one cannot stop a problem noone knows about.

 

In the decades after the first rape crisis in San Francisco in the 1970s, advocates called for legislation and funding for sexual assault survivors, such as the Violence Against Women Act, which was a monumental change for promoting an end to sexual violence. From even before then to the first official Sexual Assault Awareness Month, marches and events were held across the country during April to bring awareness to sexual violence. Then, in 2000, the newly launched National Sexual Violence Resourse Center polled citizens on what they wanted Sexual Assault Awareness Month to look like and the following April, the Sexual Assault Awareness Month we know today was born.

 

It is so important that awareness is brought to sexual assault and we continue to talk about this subject, not just in April but every month. Advocates before us fought for awareness of sexual assault for years and it is so important it is never forgotten and more survivors feel safe and protected speaking out about their experiences with sexual assault. In the United States, 81% of women and 43% of men have reported experiencing some kind of sexual harassment or assault. However, those are just the percentage of those reported. In 2018, it is thought that only 25% of rapes were actually reported to police. This is why we talk about Sexual Assault Awareness Month, not only to express how proud we are of survivors for overcoming their experiences, but to provide support to those who do not feel comfortable sharing their experiences.

 

The most important thing to remember about the affect sexual assault has to those who have experienced it is that not all survivors are the same. Many people have many different experiences. Regardless of the experience, talking about it is not easy. Survivors will speak out when they are ready and waiting until the time is right does not mean the assault did not happen. It is only our job to ensure sexual assault is talked about and provide support for survivors and the first step we can take to do just that is remembering Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Not everyone can understand what a survivor has been through, but everyone can show their support and play their part in ending sexual assault.