April brings images of springtime: buds, flowers, green grass and baby animals. A fresh start, a rebirth, a resurgence of life lies just ahead. Visions of sunny days, blue skies, fresh air and new beginnings fill our waking hours. But, April is much more than this. April is the time to remember, honor, help, and advocate for victims and survivors of sexual assault. While a difficult issue to contend with and an uncomfortable topic to spend time thinking about, we must. As a community that cares, we must show our support and concern for those in need. We must all do our part to help.
April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Centers for Disease Control. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, sexual assault is a term that is used to encompass the multitude of ways in which a person can be violated in a sexual nature against her/his will; any sexual act directed against another person, that is forcible; or, where that person is incapable of giving consent. Sexual assault is a crime in all of the U.S. states and territories.
An excerpt from the 2011 Sexual Assault Awareness Month presidential proclamation says “as we mark National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we recommit to building a society where no woman, man or child endures the fear of assault or the pain of an attack on their physical well being and basic human dignity.”
By working together and pooling our resources throughout April, we can highlight sexual violence as a major public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts in our schools, our families, our religious institutions and our community.