Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2016
by SAFV Task Force
April 10, 2016
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This yearís campaign focuses on ways that individuals and communities can help prevent sexual violence.
One way our communities help is by passing resolutions or proclamations urging everyone "to fully participate in activities and events to observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month". The town councils of Pinedale, Big Piney and Marbleton and the Sublette County Board of Commissioners join the Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and the White House in signing documents declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. These proclamations and resolutions indicate elected leadersí support of the efforts of sexual violence advocates and the victims they serve. Teal ribbons, the internationally-recognized symbol for efforts to end sexual violence, will be displayed throughout the towns, and will be available in baskets at local businesses so community members can demonstrate their support for ending sexual violence.
The proclamations and resolution remind our community that "sexual violence is widespread and impacts every person in Sublette County, Wyoming" because "statistics show one in five women and one in seventy-one men will be raped at some point in their lives; and Ö youth ages 12-17 are two and a half times as likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault."
Everyone understands that sexual violence impacts victims and their families, but the effects of this violent crime on communities and society are less obvious. Sexual violence creates a climate of fear, anger, and/or disbelief in the workplaces, campuses, and communities that it occurs in. Additionally, sexual violence generates financial costs such as criminal justice and medical expenses, crisis and mental health service fees, and lost or decreased wages for survivors.
Preventing such a far-reaching and prevalent social issue as sexual violence may seem overwhelming or even impossible. This mentality implies that there isnít a solution ó or if there is, we canít achieve it. But we can and we are. There are many practical steps that are currently being taken in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith communities, and workplaces. But there are many more things we can do to promote safety, respect, and accountability.
Prevention includes challenging victim-blaming attitudes and believing survivors when they disclose. When someone tells you that that have been hurt your supportive reaction is the first step in a long path toward healing and justice. Responding with "I believe you" is critical because a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face zero consequences and victims face their pain alone. Individuals can also model supportive relationships and behaviors, call out harmful attitudes, and challenge the societal acceptance of rape. Communities and businesses can help by taking action to implement policies that promote safety, respect, and equality.
For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month or any of the events, contact the Sublette County SAFV Task Force at (307) 367-6305 or (307) 276-3975.
Sublette County Sexual Assault Family Violence (SAFV) Task Force provides protection, assistance, and support to the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. SAFV is committed to ending violence through prevention education and social change.
Victims & survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking can call the crisis line 24-hours a day to speak to an advocate: 1-888-301-4435.