10 Ways to Mark Sexual Assault Awareness MonthApril 01, 2013
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year the campaign focuses on preventing child sexual abuse through talking about healthy sexuality. Given the allegations at places like Penn State; Notre Dame; Steubenville, Ohio; and Delhi, India, it’s clear there is a need for more prevention efforts.
AAUW’s research report Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School also shows just how young sexual harassment and sexual violence begin. However, it doesn’t just affect youth. In the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape.
If these statistics trouble you, you can take action. Here are 10 ways you can prevent sexual violence and help survivors of all ages.
1. Believe and help survivors if they confide in you. Visit the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network website to find information that will help you help the survivor. The site also has information for friends and family of survivors.
- Are you in the military? Call RAINN’s Safe Helpline, which is specifically for you.
- Are you male? Visit 1in6, a website with resources designed specifically for you.
3. #TweetAboutIt. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center is hosting a discussion on Twitter at 2 p.m. EDT every Tuesday in April. They use the hashtag #TweetAboutIt. They also offer posters, Facebook cover images, and other tools.
4. Participate in International Day against Victim-Blaming. Held on April 3, this is an online day of action to speak out against victim-blaming and to support survivors. As the organizers said, “Survivors deserve our support, not our scrutiny.” Use the hashtag #EndVictimBlaming and share this image on social media.
5. Wear jeans on April 24 as part of Denim Day in LA and USA to protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Order the Denim Day Tool Kit and raise awareness at your workplace, neighborhood, or community. AAUW staff members participate each year.
6. Advocate against military sexual assault, which affects an estimated 19,000 soldiers each year. Addressing this problem is one of the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund’s current priorities.
- Donate to LAF’s case-support program, which is supporting three sets of former service members who say that they were raped or sexually assaulted by their co-workers. The plaintiffs are bravely suing the U.S. Department of Defense.
- Host a public screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War, which features many of the LAF-supported plaintiffs.
7. Do something about campus sexual assault.
- AAUW and Students Active for Ending Rape created a Program in a Box with ideas for concrete action that can lead to concrete change.
- Download the Circle of 6 phone app, which was designed so that people can quickly send a “come and get me” message to their friends. The company also offers a new Healthy Relationships Toolkit, which addresses teen dating violence.
- Bring Men Can Stop Rape’s great bystander campaign to your local campus.
8. Use the arts or join a march. Get involved in one of these popular initiatives:
- The Clothesline Project: People affected by violence decorate a shirt and hang it on a clothesline in public as testimony to the problem of sexual violence.
- V-Day: Hold a performance or a film screening to raise awareness about violence against women and girls and to raise money for local organizations that are working to end violence.
- White Ribbon Campaign: Wear a white ribbon and make a personal pledge to “never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”
- Take Back the Night: Popular on college campuses, these marches take place after dark and make a statement that women have the right to be in public at night without the risk of sexual violence.
9. Apply for a grant to host a campus program. On a rolling basis, AAUW members can apply for LAF’s Campus Outreach Grants and receive up to $750 to hold an event about sexual assault on a local campus.
10. Apply for a grant for academic or community work. Some of the current and past AAUW fellowship and grant recipients have focused their work on sexual violence issues, and you can, too. This year, one of AAUW’s Community Action Grantees is Safe Connections, which provides counseling and support services to women and teens in the St. Louis metropolitan area who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, or childhood sexual abuse.