UPDATED 10:41 AM PT — Thursday, April 2, 2020
American organizations and agencies are observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM, to call attention to sexual harassment and abuse in the country. Kicking off Wednesday, this year’s theme has been consent during both face-to-face and even online interactions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout April, crisis centers and non-profit organizations all over the country will host charity events and social media campaigns to help spread awareness. The U.S. military is also set to participates with multiple officials recognizing the continuing effort to protect troops from abuse in the workplace.
“We must believe victims, maintain confidentiality and display empathy,”said Major Gen. Jon Jensen, adjutant general for the Minnesota National Guard. “Creating a safe and positive command pilot starts with me, but it falls on everyone to ensure our soldiers and airmen feel safe and welcomed.”
Officials have said they want soldiers prepared by having them recognize inappropriate behaviors and learn intervention techniques.
According to the CDC, more than one in three women and one in four men have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. The CDC said teaching people how to identify assault and how to properly intervene can help protect potential victims.
“Our standard approach is engage individuals in preventing sexual violence by promoting social norms that are positive in their communities,” stated Katie Jones, Project Officer for the CDC. “When people are trained in bystander intervention, that means that they learn the skills that they need to be able to intervene in situations that are potentially harmful.”
The initiative was started back in 2001 by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to educate individuals about the magnitude of sexual violence. The resource center planned several initiatives for the month of April, which started with their “Day of Action.”
Supporters are invited to participate in an awareness campaign on social media on April 7 by sharing a photo wearing teal.