Dear Editor:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This year’s campaign focuses on ways that individuals, communities, and the private sector can help prevent sexual violence. Nearly one in five women and one in 71 men are victims of sexual assault (Black et al., 2011), but all of us are impacted in some way by sexual violence.

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, schools, and communities that it occurs in.

Preventing such a far-reaching and prevalent social issue as sexual violence may seem overwhelming or even impossible. This mentality implies that there isn’t a solution or if there is, we can’t achieve it. But we can, if we want to, together. There are many practical steps that we can take in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith communities, and workplaces by promoting SAFETY, RESPECT and ACCOUNTABILITY.

Prevention starts with challenging victim-blaming and believing survivors when they disclose. Individuals can model supportive relationships and behaviors, call out harmful attitudes, and challenge the societal acceptance of sexual assault.

Communities and businesses can take action to implement policies that promote safety, respect, and equality.

As this year’s slogan declares, prevention is possible! Join us in helping everyone see their role in preventing sexual violence in our community. You can learn more at www.nsvrc.org/saam.

Terri Allison

Executive Director

A Safe Place