Many organizations have an awareness day, week, or month, and April is our spotlight–Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
I’m not going to talk about the history of SAAM (which you can read about here https://www.nsvrc.org/saam/2022/about/historyofsaam). But I think awareness is a delicate balance that most advocacy organizations struggle to find. Do we focus on the atrocities of sexual violence and scare people away? Do we approach things lightheartedly that we completely avoid the topic that we are so dedicated to?
I personally think that like anything, we need to not only find balance, but also change our approach as our society and attitudes change. Most adults are aware that sexual violence happens, so how can we go beyond that? A great example is the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC) topic this year of “Building Safe Online Spaces Together.” As we’ve evolved into a society that uses technology for everything, our outreach efforts need to include that technology aspect, too. SARCC is on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube (and maybe even Tiktok in the future—please, Ali?). These are great outlets for our supporters to keep involved in our mission in a way that feels comfortable for them.
It’s also important to have efforts that go beyond sexual assault statistics and address the parts of sexual violence we don’t completely understand. This is why we’ve been having so many discussions about our anti-racism/anti-oppression work at SARCC—when you work on the efforts of the most marginalized, you ensure the rights for everyone.
Do you know what other aspect we don’t always think about? Something that can’t be shared via Instagram stories or statistics on Facebook?
The survivor who discloses abuse after a prevention education session in a school.
The survivor who chooses not to use substances after seeing their perpetrator at the grocery store.
The survivor who is finally able to sleep in their bed and not the couch.
The survivor who says no and is respected.
The survivor who decides maybe they are worthy of healing.
The survivor who breaks their silence.
In April we wear teal—and we wear it in other months, too. In April we post on social media—and we also post throughout the year. In April we prevent sexual violence—and we spread our mission every day. In April we promote healing—just like we do 365 days of the year. In April we keep survivors in our hearts—and we’ll always keep them there, no matter the month.