Hi, my name is Sunny and I am the Hospital Accompaniment Coordinator for Avalon Center. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month, we encourage advocates to engage the greater community in prevention efforts, and to educate the community on the impact of sexual violence. We all know that one month is not enough to solve this multi-layered, widespread issue. So this year’s theme-- Engaging New Voices--will be empowering key members in the community to speak out, people like faith leaders, coaches, Greek life leaders on college campuses, and other community members. As trusted voices, these leaders can share information and spread resources to put an end to attitudes that support sexual violence. Throughout the month, we will be launching our webisodes and podcasts to provide resources and information. Topics include “What is sexual assault?”, “What options are there after being sexually assaulted?”, “Flashbacks,” “Grounding and Coping Skills,” and “What friends or family members can do to support a survivor.” Sexual assault is a crime that not only impacts the survivors, but it harms the community as a whole. This week, I will be talking about Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and how it got started.
Sexual Assault awareness and the movement go way back, before it was nationally recognized. In the late 1970s, women in England held protests against the violence they encountered as they walked the streets at night. They called them “Take Back the Night” marches. Word slowly started to spread to other countries as the protests grew. In 1978, New York City and San Francisco held the first Take Back the Night events in the U.S. Over time, sexual assault awareness activities grew to include the issues of sexual violence against men and men’s roles in ending sexual violence.
Locally, the annual Take Back the Night event will be held at The College of William & Mary on Thursday, April 20th and is open to community members.
Month of April
In the 1980s, activists started to look for a week for sexual assault awareness. The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault polled and decided on a week in April. Despite choosing a single week in April, some advocates began holding sexual violence events throughout the whole month of April. By the late 1990s, it was common to have events throughout the month for sexual assault awareness, and advocates started to campaign for the month of April to be recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. On April 1st 2001, the United States first observed Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally.
This year marks the 16th year of an official Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Throughout the month, we will be releasing our podcasts and webisodes to educate our community members on sexual violence, and what resources and information are out there for the community as a whole. Please stay tuned for next week’s webisode “What is Sexual Assault?” Thank you!