April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is a nationally-recognized campaign to raise the issue of sexual violence to the public and educate communities on preventative measures. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) founded SAAM in 2000 and has since coordinated the campaign by providing tools, resources, and graphics required to raise awareness and host events every April.
The campaign theme is “I Ask,” which makes asking for consent the necessary, normal, and healthy part of human interaction. Whether it’s asking your partner permission to have sex or hold their hand, consent is a clear way to end sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.
Spreading Awareness in Indiana
This year, our legal team at Wagner Reese is doing our part to spread awareness of sexual assault throughout April—and even in May.
On May 4, 2019, our firm is proud to sponsor the Family Fun Color Walk/Run 5K which aims to bring awareness to sexual abuse and raise money to develop safer communities. Volunteers of all ages can participate in this event and are eligible for awesome prizes. Family Fun Color Walk/Run 5K is led by Strive to Make an Impact, Inc.—a local Indiana nonprofit organization that advocates for sexual abuse survivors, helps prevent sexual abuse, and raises awareness.
Additionally, we would like to highlight the efforts of Prevail, which offers adult and youth free services to empower victims of crime and abuse in Indiana and build healthy relationships with the community. Whether its crisis prevention or restorative support services, Prevail works with individuals and families by saving lives and bringing hope.
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Prevail created the Clothesline Project, consisting of a display of shirts with graphic messages and illustrations made by survivors of violence and family members of victims who have passed away. The goal is to provide survivors a channel to highlight the tragedy of sexual violence and increase awareness to the community. Local businesses are encouraged to host or offer their space for Prevail’s Clothesline Display.
Wagner Reese, Prevail & Strive to Make An Impact, Inc. will do our best to spread awareness of sexual assault and advocate for consent.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault occurs when a person intentionally makes sexual contact with another individual—despite not obtaining consent—or forces a person to engage in sexual activity against their will. This type of crime takes a wide variety of forms, such as rape, groping, sexual harassment and child sexual abuse—with or without verbal threats.
Rape is defined as forced sexual intercourse that entails both physical force and psychological coercion. Verbal threats of rape are a form of attempted rape.
According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), one of out every six women in the United States and one out of every 33 men have been the victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. Child Protective Services agencies suggest approximately 63,000 children annually are victims of sexual abuse.
History of Movement
The 1940s and 50s was the start of the civil rights era, creating movements for equality and social changes led by African American women and other women of color. Sexual assault awareness and support for survivors continued into the 1970s—with the first rape crisis center being built in 1971 in San Francisco, CA, and the National Women’s Conference held in 1977 in Houston, TX.
Advocates and survivors in the next few decades called for legislation and funding to support survivors, including the Violence Against Women Act of 1993 (VAWA). Ever since, advocates have been coordinating events, marches, and observances raising awareness of sexual violence.
In 2000, NSVRC and the Resource Sharing Project led a poll, asking sexual violence coalitions about the desired month, symbol, and color for sexual violence awareness activities. The answers led to adopting the teal ribbon as a symbol for sexual assault awareness, thus resulting in SAAM.
Events in Indiana
If you are interested in participating in any of the NSVRC-sponsored events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, consider the following events:
- Walk a Mile in Their Shoes – The Greene County Sexual Assault Response Team will host this event in Bloomfield on April 12, 2019, at 11 AM.
- Take Back the Night – Ivy Tech Community College-Lafayette will host this event in Lafayette on April 12, 2019, at 5:30 PM.
- I Ask Telethon on WTCA – Herminger House will host this event on April 26, 2019, in Plymouth at 11 AM.
Can a Sexual Assault Victim File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In addition to filing criminal charges against a sexual assault perpetrator, victims can often file a personal injury lawsuit against the suspect in civil court. While there is no cause of action for sexual assault, the legal theories which apply include assault and battery or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Wagner Reese is committed to not only helping sexual violence victims obtain the financial compensation and justice they deserve, but also spread awareness about the dangers of sexual assault and the importance of consent. Our Indiana personal injury attorneys can investigate your case, collect evidence, and hold the perpetrator liable for the physical and emotional harm they caused.
For more information about SAAM and sexual assault, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.