SAAM is Sexual Assault Awareness Month | April 2022
When the #MeToo movement first began to go viral in 2017, it finally brought forth the truth about sexual violence in the United States and uncovered the devastating reality of a societal wide crisis. For generations, survivors stayed silent as they hid their trauma against an indifferent and often cruel society. With the movement propelling the issue of sexual violence into the modern-day spotlight, changes to our culture and perspective were inevitable, and it begins with silence – or a lack thereof.
Our culture is changing rapidly and the growth of activism for vulnerable communities has been bolstered by the internet and social media. For survivors of sexual assault, it has given them a platform to tell their story, and for what seems like the first time, a chance to be heard. The truth is that the solution to the problem isn’t to just have perpetrators arrested or getting justice through the courts. While outcomes like that are always welcome, it does little to truly heal trauma, and is a “solution” that still revolves around the offender. If we want to create a better, more empathetic culture, and advocate for actual change, then it begins with the survivor.
The movement “Start by Believing” is a global campaign that pursues that goal innately. If we ever want to see genuine change and improvement in rates of sexual violence, we must believe survivors. This is how we, as everyday people, can offer genuine care, respect, and support, empowering those who need it the most.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and there is no better time than right now to raise your voice. Offer your support through definitive action like donating to local or national organizations such as Northern Arizona Care and Services after Sexual Assault, which offers comprehensive and free survivor support services such as emergency contraception and medical or forensic examinations; or volunteer your time with organizations like us at Victim Witness Services and learn the skills needed to engage in real-world crisis response with our advocates. Even if these aren’t options for you, change your culture by taking the time to raise awareness, fight against toxic societal norms like rape culture, and learn to listen to survivors with an empathetic ear, and empower them to make their own decisions.
Together we can stop the silence. It’s time to be heard.