This April marks the 18th year recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). “Take Back the Night” started in the 1970s after the first rape crisis clinic was open, with many women’s groups worked on campaigns for years to raise awareness of sexual violence. Finally, in 2001, April became recognized as sexual assault awareness month.
The idea behind this campaign is to start a conversation on what sexual abuse is, how it can be prevented, and how survivors of sexual violence can be supported. SAAM promotes giving voice to the victims of unreported crimes and helps to unify people or all genders and races who have faced sexual violence.
Even with all the awareness, sexual assault is still a significant issue in the world today. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one-third of women and one-sixth of men experience some sort of sexual violence or harassment in their lifetime. Sixty-three percent of rapes go unreported out of fear that the perpetrator will seek revenge or that the police will not be able to do anything to help.
Although the only one to ever blame for a sexual assault is the perpetrator, there are a few things one can do to help prevent themselves and others from facing sexual violence. According to RAINN, a sexual assault crisis group, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of assault. One is to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings if you are going out to a party or a bar and to know your location and other things that surround the area.
If you feel like something is wrong or see a person who may be in trouble, either step in or get the help of a bartender, security guard or owner of the house if you do not feel safe to take action alone. Second, protect your drink not do leave your cup unattended. Leaving your cup can increase the risk of it being drugged. Last, know your limits and know yourself; if you feel uncomfortable in a situation due to over drinking or just an instinctively bad feeling, exit the situation and get to a safe place immediately.
In honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Millersville will host a “Take Back the Night” rally on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Memorial Center. “Take Back the Night” is an international rally that raises awareness of sexual violence. The rally will have an open mic night for survivors to share their stories, poster making and chalkings, as well as onsite counselors from Millersville counseling center.