Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April was first declared as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2001. Since then, April has been a time to acknowledge the widespread prevalence of sexual assault nationwide and those who have survived sexual violence. Sexual violence includes a range of actions and behaviors including rape, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and sexual harassment. Sexual violence happens to people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, professions, incomes, and ethnicities. In 2015, it was reported from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau that 57,286 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the United States.
Sexual assault awareness Month at a Glance
In the United States, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.
This year, SAAM is celebrating its 17th anniversary with the theme “Embrace Your Voice” to inform individuals on how they can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens.
Individuals can embrace their voices to show their support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children.
We know that one month isn’t enough to solve the serious and widespread issue of sexual violence. However, the attention April generates is an opportunity to energize and expand prevention efforts throughout the year.
What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence is a broad term and includes: rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human traf cking, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.
Sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem. Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives, and 1 in 67 American men have experienced rape or attempted rape.1
Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Consent means permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Reasons someone might not consent to sexual activity include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or infuence of alcohol or drugs.
Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and seniors.
Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family, trusted individuals, or strangers; of these, the rst three are most common.
About Sexual Violence + Prevention
The good news is that prevention is possible, and it’s happening. Individuals, communities, and the private sector are already successfully combating the risk of sexual violence through conversations, programs, policies, and research-based tools that promote safety, respect, and equality. By promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies, and healthy relationships, we can create safe and equitable communities where every person is treated with respect.
We are in a watershed moment. With the country focused on this very important issue, we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve understanding and change behaviors. The time to rally communities and the broader public is now.