The history behind Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Sophomore Deanna Ponce shows her support to SAAM by gently holding a teal ribbon.

Twenty years ago, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a nonprofit organization that specializes in providing resources surrounding sexual violence, launched the Sexual Assault Awareness campaign with the intent of spreading awareness about the topic. Only eight years after its creation, the Obama administration recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). 

Being recognized wasn’t as easy as it seems, its origins go way back into the 70s when the first rape crisis center was built in San Francisco which later led to the introduction of the Take Back The Night, an event that took place worldwide intending to end sexual and domestic violence in the United States. Finally, after years of protesting and spreading awareness, in 1990, the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy was formed by the State Legislature. One of its purposes is to provide sexual assault funding. Four years later the Violence Against Women Act was passed which further supported survivors. 

Although it can be assumed that most teens are not knowledgeable about SAAM, Sophomore Kaden Soul shows that some students do take an interest.

“I do in fact know the history behind SAAM, and I personally love it. I think it’s really disgusting that this has existed for at least 50 years, and not that much has really been changed about society, or about how we handle it,” stated Soul. 

Soul does have a point, not much has changed but for that to happen, it starts with being educated on why it’s bad, how to prevent it, and ways to support survivors.

“I believe it is important to educate people on this because it is a problem that 97% recorded females have faced, and there are 3% recorded for males, thus meaning that there are survivors all around us, holding on to their pain-inflicting secret, and not being able to get any sort of therapy or even talk to a friend/family member about it,” added Soul.

In recent years Colorado has made improvements with UCHealth’s Sane project.

SANE nurses provide adult and pediatric medical examinations, using compassionate and evidence-based methods, for patients who have experienced sexual assault.  The medical exam is performed only after a patient provides consent. The exam involves a physical exam, collection of forensic evidence, and patient history. Additionally, patients receive community resources,” said UCHealth.

It’s a step in the right direction, hopefully, other states follow.

April is such an important month and it’s the perfect opportunity to reach out to loved ones who have been affected by something as traumatizing as sexual assault. Just as Soul had said, there are survivors all around us.