In the United States April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it. Sexual violence is a major public health, human rights and social justice issue.
Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from sexist attitudes and actions to rape and murder. Sexual violence can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will. An offender might also use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence.
There is a social context that surrounds sexual violence. Social norms that promote violence, using power over others, unhealthy concepts about masculinity, the subjugation of women, and silence about violence and abuse contribute to the occurrence of sexual violence.
Oppression in all of its forms is among the root causes of sexual violence. Sexual violence is preventable through collaborations of community members at multiple levels of society: homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith settings, workplaces, and other settings. We all play a role in preventing sexual violence and establishing norms of respect, safety, equality, and helping others.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. The campaign theme, I Ask, champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.