Talia Bartley, Noam Elfassi & Sarah Kohn
April marks the 17th year of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)! The goal of this annual campaign is to raise awareness about the realities of sexual violence. Sexual violence is a broad term that includes rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.1 According to the CDC, in the U.S. one in three women and one in six men have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.2 Recent movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up have shed light on this issue and provided a platform for victims to share their experiences to spur action to change societal norms around rape culture and consent.
Your voice has power! Use the below #SAAM Social Media Toolkit created by the AWARE® Teen Advisory Board to raise awareness and show support for survivors.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
- More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
- 20% - 25% of college women and 15% of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
- In 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knows the person who sexually assaulted them.
- Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police and only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to the authorities.
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
- 325,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation each year.
- Nearly 1 in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
*Get Statistics. National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).
Need to know the basics? Here are a few definitions to help clarify words and phrases you might hear a lot during SAAM.
- Sexual Assault: Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape. (U.S. Dept. Of Justice)
- Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. The conduct of the offender must be offensive and unwelcome by the victim. (Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission)
- Rape Culture: An environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety. (Marshall University Women’s Center)
- Consent: Permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something. In the context of sexual contact, consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent is freely given and is done so without pressure or coercion.
1 About Sexual Assault. National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).
2 The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.