April is right around the corner, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This April marks the 20th official Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
In the early 2000s, the primary goal of SAAM was awareness, which was achieved through the visibility of teal ribbons and insightful discussions.
By the mid-2000s, SAAM incorporated prevention more heavily, focusing on areas such as communities, workplaces and college campuses. These campaigns discussed ways that individuals and communities can stop sexual assault before it happens by changing behaviors and promoting respect.
In more recent years, SAAM has focused on bringing in audiences beyond advocates: those who may not realize they play an important role in preventing sexual violence.
Recent resources have focused on how people like parents, faith leaders, RAs and coaches can become agents of change, while sharing the practical things each of us can do to prevent sexual assault.
This month is especially important considering nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced rape (or attempted rape) at one point in their lives, with 1 in 67 men having similar experiences.
According to National Day Calendar, every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, though only 5 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.
This is why it is so important to speak out against sexual violence and the conditions that allow it to go unreported.
Rape is the most under-reported crime, considering that 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported. Although this is a very sensitive issue, it is so important to talk about. People need to be educated on this, especially those who attend college or live on college campuses. Here at Mercyhurst, we take this issue very seriously.
There are many resources available on the campus, such as the Counseling Center, Police & Safety and the Title IX office. Mercyhurst is also dedicated to having meetings to talk about such issues and take action.
For instance, the school has new athletes attend a presentation discussing this issue and tells them how to notice sexual assault, how to take action if such a thing were to happen to them and or another person, and how to prevent an assault from occurring.
Being a college student, it is important to recognize such things and to be educated on the topic, because these very issues may be happening right in front of us.
In order to take action we need to be aware. The Mercyhurst Empowerment and Prevention Project (MEPP) is able to provide additional information about on-campus and local resources for the victims of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, as well as stalking.
National resources are also readily available such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which you can call by dialing the number 1-800-656-4673.