Each year, New College actively participates in Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) with multiple activities for students to take part of throughout the month of April. With events such as lectures on supporting sexual assault survivors, building communication for a healthier sex life, educating students on sexual violence in the queer community, and Take Back the Night, students can learn and become more aware of sexual violence.
Thesis student Cassandra Corrado has been involved with SAAM at New College since 2012 and is currently the director for the Sexual Health and Relationship Education (SHARE) Center.
“During the summer after my first year, I interned with the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (The CSPH),” Corrado said. “While I was there, I started to read about reclaiming sexuality after sexual assault, and that spurred my interest in issues of sexual violence. During my second year, I undertook an ISP focused on research sexual violence prevention education curricula on college campuses, and used my research to plan SAAM 2013. From there, my interest continued to grow, and I interned as a victim advocate at SPARCC. Following graduation, I will be working with the national Take Back the Night organization to rebrand their national advocacy to be more inclusive and contemporarily relevant.”
In the 1970s, women in England began holding protests against violence they experienced as they walked the streets at night. These protests came to be known as Take Back the Night marches. Word soon spread to other countries, inspiring them to do the same and the protests grew.
In 1978, New York City and San Francisco held the first United States Take Back the Night marches and, over time, sexual assault awareness expanded to include problems with sexual violence against men, and their roles in helping end sexual assault. As sexual assault awareness evolved, October became another important month to recognize violence against women, with domestic violence becoming the central focus.
At first, activists only wanted a week for sexual assault awareness. In the 1980s, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault polled state sexual assault alliances to designate a week for Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and finally a week was selected in April. Some advocates held sexual violence events throughout the month of April and by the late 1990s, it was usual for sexual assault awareness activities to be seen throughout the month of April, subsequently calling for a national month.
The United States first nationally observed SAAM on April 1, 2001. Since then, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) advocates for national unity for SAAM events.
“I hope that SAAM continues to grow here at New College, particularly in its inclusivity,” Corrado said. “We try to have events focused on populations that are often marginalized, but we haven’t been able to have events about men as survivors or about child abuse, because no one on our committee has ever had the expertise to lead those workshops, and if we have had someone who could, they aren’t comfortable doing that. I hope that in the following years we have people who are able to do those events, because they’re very important. Nationally, I would love to see SAAM get more attention outside of activist communities. Even within activist communities, sexual violence is often silenced, and we can’t hope for a society free of sexual violence without people speaking up in support of survivors.”
Information taken from nsvrc.org