Along with Earth Day and Autism Awareness, April has also been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) – an often overlooked and difficult topic to broach. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence (with an emphasis on sexual assault and rape) and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent its occurrence.
The focus of this year’s SAAM campaign is centered on reaching people in their workplaces. The “Respect Works” campaign is ultimately about moving beyond the victim – or perpetrator – based view of sexual violence and looking to the larger environment in which sexually violent acts happen. This includes relationships, organizations and communities.
Whether at home, work or school, healthy relationships are based on consideration and respect. When we care about others and the world around us, we have a responsibility to be involved and help out when others are in harm’s way. This is the essence of promoting social change that can result in less sexually violent behavior.
The 2009 SAAM Day of Action is Wednesday, April 8. You can join people all over the country and the world by planning an awareness event within your community on or around this date.
We have created a quick reference guide to help you find events in your area and ways to participate as an organizer in the campaign against sexual assault.
Join the Campaign!
The SAAM website brings us the “Respect Works” campaign. Which is an opportunity for you to build partnerships with local employers, as well as a way to convey a message to the public about respectful and responsible behavior.
Some of the campaign materials, like the palm card and Featured Event Workshop, have messages about respect and responsibility that apply to any setting, not just a work environment. This campaign also includes materials specifically designed for the workplace, like the Workplace Outreach Guide, Employer Checklist, and fact sheet. All the messages are aimed at encouraging individuals, wherever they work or live, to build respectful relationships and take responsibility for creating a safer world!
Use social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter to organize a “Shop In” against Sexual assault. Send messages to everyone on your contact lists and ask them to ”Log On and Shop In” by simply clicking this link: http://nonprofitshoppingmall.com/shop/index/0/23 and purchasing one or more items from any of the listed retailers. A percentage of every purchase will go to the nonprofit group: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). * If 100 people each spent $25 – buying things they already need or want – (with an average of 4% of the sale earmarked for RAINN) that would raise $100 to help fight sexual abuse right here in America.
Some organizations can take part in political advocacy during
SAAM by writing letters to local, state, territory, tribal, or other government officials about policies related to sexual violence that effect your community. Click here for sample letters to elected officials.
Denim Day is an international protest in response to the Italian
Supreme Court’s overruling of a rape conviction in 1999, wherein an Italian woman was raped, her assailant tried and found guilty. The Supreme Court later overturned the ruling, using the logic that jeans are so difficult to remove; the assailant could not have done so without the victim’s help.
To honor Denim Day, people are encouraged to wear jeans to work or school in order to promote awareness. Your organization can also print stickers or buttons with Denim Day slogans on them, to encourage people to ask, “What is Denim Day?” To make this event successful, effective promotion is the key. Your organization should publicize this event to as many businesses and schools as possible. Information about sexual assault should be sent out with the information about Denim Day. Peace Over Violence (formerly Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women) sponsors a Denim Day in LA campaign with various related resources. Click here for more information.
Bookstore and Library Displays & Readings
Approach local bookstores and libraries about setting up displays of books related to sexual assault with a SAAM flyer and your program’s information. Organize a book or poetry reading about sexual assault and healing. Click here for a list of suggested books.
This type of event creates a safe space for survivors of all forms of sexual violence to “speak out” about their experience, recovery, and healing. Choose a fairly quiet location for your event and ensure that local rape crisis center professionals are involved in the event’s organization.
V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.
Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities. The V-Day website (www.vday.org) provides information on holding a Vagina Monologues event in your community or at your college or university. V-Day events often occur during the month of April, but also take place throughout the calendar year. For event information in your area click here.
Many social and health causes have started annual walk or run events to raise money and awareness about their issue. If your organization has the resources to plan and hold a walk for sexual violence awareness and prevention, this is a great option.
If you have limited time and resources, consider reaching out to other organizations in your area that are holding walks and runs during April and form a team to represent the anti-sexual violence movement. Have matching teal t-shirts made and make sure to bring materials about sexual violence to distribute to other participants.
2009 National Sexual Assault Conference
The National Sexual Assault Conference is a two-and-a-half-day, advocacy-based conference providing advanced training opportunities and information regarding sexual violence intervention and prevention. This year’s theme is Mentoring Our Movement and will be held in Alexandria, Virginia from September 9-11, 2009. This conference will provide a forum for dialogue on sexual violence prevention and intervention as well as offering advanced training and professional growth opportunities. For more conference information click here.
For more ideas and tools to help raise awareness and organize an activity in YOUR community go to: http://www.nsvrc.org/saam.