April is very special month for our agency. It is the month that we celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAPM). Now, the word celebrate is used here because the U.S. Department of Justice reported that the number of Americans that are sexually assaulted has dropped more than 50% since 1993.
This shows the vast amount of impact that violence against women campaigns have accomplished in the past 19 years since the report was published in 2012. While this is really good news, it doesn’t detract from the fact that an average of 237,868 people (ages 12 or older) is still raped or sexually assaulted every year in the United States. This is an everyday issue that directly or indirectly affects everyone.
That average of 237,868 people is exacerbated even more globally. We know that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of violence in their lives. A horrible example of this violence took place during SAAPM 2014. On April 14, 2014 our agency was gearing up for a Take Back the Night event collaboration with TWU’s Project REV.
However, on that same day in a Nigerian town, over 250 girls were kidnapped into human sex trafficking by Boko Haram, a group of militant extremists. These girls were ages 15-18 and had already braved coming to school that day to take their esteemed final exams even though the extremists had already shut down most of the schools in the state. These girls were on their way to becoming doctors and lawyers when they were forcibly taken to be sold as $12 brides.
Many have taken to Twitter and other social media with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to bring more awareness to this atrocity and to put pressure on the Nigerian government to take action to return these girls to their families.
It’s instances like this that show even though April 2014 has already passed, it does not mean that sexual assault awareness and prevention activities should stop or lay idle until April rolls back around in 2015. But what can we do? We can encourage and urge healthy relationships through communication and equal respect with our children and our loved ones. Visit our website and schedule a presentation for more information on healthy relationships and communication.