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What is the theme for 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities and how can local centers participate?

Friday, April 01, 2016

by Susan Sullivan, Prevention Campaign Specialist for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center

The theme of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign is Prevention is Possible. This April we hope to share the message that we can all stop sexual violence before it happens by addressing the root causes and social norms that allow it to exist.

Many societal factors contribute to the prevalence of sexual violence. Everything from rape jokes to the objectification of women in marketing campaigns can normalize violence and allow inequality to thrive. This year’s campaign materials help individuals, communities, and businesses to see their role in preventing sexual violence. The Campaign Brochure breaks down action steps that these audiences can take to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual assault before it happens.

Individuals can:

  • Intervene to stop concerning behaviors
  • Promote and model healthy attitudes and relationships
  • Believe survivors when they disclose

Communities and organizations can:

  • Create and strengthen policies to promote safety
  • Assess risks in their environment
  • Promote respect and provide support for survivors
  • Hold those who harm other accountable and ensure they get appropriate help

Businesses and corporations can:

  • Model healthy attitudes and relationships in their engagement with clients and consumers
  • Promote positive messages and behaviors through their marketing campaigns
  • Invest time and funds in programs and organizations working to end sexual violence

We encourage local centers to find a way to take part in the Day of Action on Tuesday, April 5th. The Day of Action is an opportunity for advocates to engage with their communities and kick off SAAM events that are planned throughout April. Be sure to highlight your event on the national event calendar. Check out the Event Planning Guide to learn more about planning your own SAAM event.

Social media is an easy and effective way to get the word out about SAAM and to help build awareness around prevention. The Social Media Toolkit includes pre-written posts, links to items like the SAAM profile picture and share graphics, and much more. Be sure to use the #SAAM hashtag and connect with us on social media to share your events, photos, and stories throughout April.

Local centers can take advantage of resources such as the campaign poster and promotional video. Both materials list action steps that individuals can take to make a difference:

  • preventionposterIntervene to stop concerning behavior
  • Speak up when you hear rape jokes or harmful comments
  • Believe and support survivors
  • Create prevention policies at your workplace or school
  • Coordinate a community event to raise awareness
  • Talk with neighbors about ways everyone can get involved
  • Email legislators to gain support for prevention and services

This April, we hope that individuals and groups across the country will mobilize to promote the prevention of sexual violence in their communities. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a pivotal time to unify behind the message that Prevention is Possible. It can be difficult sometimes for individuals to know what they can do. By building on the suggestions above and using other campaign materials as needed, everyone can do something that can make a difference. When everyone is involved, Prevention is Possible!