By Susan Sullivan, Prevention Campaign Specialist for NSVRC
With the #MeToo movement transforming the way our society is talking about the issue of sexual violence, the theme of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), Embrace Your Voice, feels like a perfect fit. Ironically, the theme was chosen over the summer, when the development of SAAM resources traditionally takes place – well before #MeToo, founded by Tarana Burke in 2007 to support sexual violence survivors, particularly black and brown girls, was popularized in the fall of 2017. Building on the success of last year’s campaign, which centered around engaging new voices, this theme was a natural next step. While it may be a coincidence that two relate so well, it’s clear that our culture is in a watershed moment in the movement to end sexual violence. This year’s campaign is the perfect opportunity to harness that momentum.
The theme of the 2018 campaign, Embrace Your Voice, provides an exciting opportunity to educate and demonstrate that everyone’s voice matters when it comes to preventing sexual assault. More specifically, individuals can embrace their voice to show their support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communication with children. We’re hoping to demonstrate that everyone’s voice is necessary in this conversation – whether they’re shutting down locker room talk or just helping someone better understand these issues.
The SAAM Action Kit was developed to illustrate the importance of SAAM, motivate individuals and communities to get involved, and provide supportive resources and tools. This year’s action kit includes: samples of campaign resources, a social media toolkit, a free sticker, a poster, an infographic, an overview of merchandise, and a one-pager that provides an overview of SAAM and sexual violence prevention. So far, NSVRC has mailed over 8,000 action kits to organizations and individuals across the US – and the demand isn’t slowing down. We’re excited to see the outcome of putting this resource in the hands of so many passionate people looking to make a difference. You can request your free physical copy of the action kit here, or download the online version.
In addition to the action kit, NSVRC offers four key resources which contain all of the campaign-specific information. Each resource is a 3"x5" palm card, which is perfect for handing out at events or leaving around community spaces such as coffee shops and college campuses. The palm cards are titled: Embrace Your Voice, Everyday Consent, Healthy Communications with Kids, and Understanding Sexual Violence. They can be purchased in the NSVRC Store or downloaded free of charge as one-pagers from the SAAM site. The Overview of SAAM Campaign Resources blog post takes a closer look at the palm cards and other resources available this year.
Planning an Event
#MeToo has left many folks wondering how they can make a difference. Sexual Assault Awareness Month provides the perfect opportunity to leverage this momentum, resulting in increased engagement to help further our movement vision. Those new to hosting a SAAM event in their community can benefit from a 10-part blog series aimed at first-time SAAM event planners, Beginner’s Guide to SAAM Event Planning. The series covers topics such as Planning a SAAM Event on a Budget, SAAM Campaign Ideas for Your Community, Movies to Screen During SAAM, How Social Media Can Amplify Your SAAM Message, and more. The blogs offer suggestions around efforts such as setting up an awareness table, having your local library exhibit a SAAM display case, or hosting a movie screening. The intention of the series is to help make event planning exciting, accessible, and empowering.
Importance of SAAM 2018
We are anticipating an increased interest in SAAM this year with the spotlight on the issue of sexual violence thanks to #MeToo. The work that organizations and individuals do this April will be more visible than ever before. We have an unprecedented opportunity to improve understanding and change behaviors on a broad scale. The time to rally is now. Leverage this opportunity to engage your communities and get the message out this April and beyond. After all, if there’s one undeniable truth we’ve learned from #MeToo, it’s that our voices have power.