April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2023 marks the official 22nd anniversary of SAAM. The month is dedicated to raising awareness of sexual assault and educating communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
The theme of SAAM 2023 is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” This April’s campaign calls on all individuals, communities, organizations and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect.
In the 1970s women across the United States and Europe started protesting and organizing rallies to raise awareness about sexual assault and rape. Women who did not feel safe walking alone at night called the marches, “Take back the night.” In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) became the first law that required law enforcement to treat sexual assault as a crime rather than a family matter. VAWA creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Since its enactment, VAWA programs have dramatically improved federal, tribal, state and local responses to these crimes. But women are not the only ones who experience sexual assault. Younger people and children are at high risk of experiencing sexual assault as well. One in every four girls and one in every six boys experience sexual abuse before the age of 18. Almost 70% of all reported abuse comes from children 17 and under. These are very scary statistics and prove that more works needs to be done.
People tend to think predators are old, ugly and/or always drive a white van. The truth is predators can be the closest ones near you. One time I was surfing social media and I ran across a post on Facebook. This post was definitely an eye opener. A predator wrote anonymously that he likes to prey on single mothers because they are the ones who are the most in need. He doesn’t mind paying a few bills or buying groceries because that is how he’ll win her trust. And slowly he makes his way into her home where he can be close to her children. I have children myself and that post gave me chills.
Tips to Keep you Safe
Ladies and gentlemen, please be aware of your surroundings! Trust your instincts. If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel comfortable in the location you are at or maybe you are talking to someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, reach out to someone who you trust to give you company. If you do not own a pepper spray or another personal security device, an idea to protect yourself is to carry your own keys. If your car has an alarm, then set it off. It will give you an opportunity to escape. If not, carry your keys in between your fingers as another method. Contact YVC’s Security Office if you notice anything suspicious on campus.
If you or someone you know may have experienced sexual abuse just know help is available. Speak with someone today.
Sexual Assault Resources
National Sexual Assault Hotline| 1-800-656-4673
Aspen Victim Advocacy Center (Yakima) | 509-452-9675|
Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline | 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
YWCA Domestic Violence Awareness Service | 509-248-7796
For life threatening situations immediately call 9-1-1
Post authored by GSC President Jessica Rodriguez