Every day, we have the opportunity to prevent sexual violence through our small moments, and when we take action throughout the year, we can all contribute to the movement to end sexual violence. What will you create with your moment?

While Sexual Assault Awarenss Month (SAAM) is a wonderful opportunity to recommit to prevention, it is critical that we don’t put prevention aside when the month is over; it needs to be an ongoing, yearlong process. Please learn more about how sexual assault and how you can contribute to prevention every day.

We Can End Sexual Violence 2 (Facebook Cover)
Photo - Sexual Violence Facts

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

In the month of April, Verde Valley Sanctuary (VVS) recognizes National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). We take this moment to reflect on the strength and resilience of survivors and victims, the perseverance of advocates, and the dedication of the professionals in many fields who support those who experience sexual assault.

Sexual assault can be a life-changing trauma for far too many of our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. The CDC has found that about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men suffer sexual violence at some point in their lives. And while you may not have personally been the victim of sexual violence, it is likely that you do know someone who is, even if they have not shared that information publicly. This trauma can be compounded by institutions and cultural perceptions that blame survivors rather than meet them where they are in their journey to healing, accountability, and justice.

A couple of years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are more aware than ever of the compounded challenges that sexual assault survivors face. They might be isolated at home and away from their support networks, afraid to access help in hospitals or rape crisis centers thus risking exposure to the virus.

As we raise awareness of the many ways in which we can work together to put an end to the crime of sexual assault, VVS is dedicated daily to addressing the needs of underserved and marginalized survivors, improving access to justice, enhancing survivor safety, and building a coordinated response to violence against women.

Every April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month strives to be a voice of the victims of sexual abuse and violence. The mission is to increase awareness about sexual violence worldwide and educate communities on how to prevent it. The term “sexual assault” is an umbrella term that includes all of the following: Rape; Molestation; Unwanted sexual contact of any other form; Sexual harassment; Incest; Child sexual abuse; Sexual violence, even with an intimate partner; Sexual exploitation; Human trafficking; Voyeurism.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of these or experiences them in the future, call the police or Verde Valley Sanctuary (928) 634-2511. Sexual assault is a crime, and no one should take it lightly. Do not be afraid to speak out if this happens to you.

Ways to show your support

  • Learn about sexual assault - and how you can support a survivor. Read this page and download Verde Valley Sanctuary's Sexual Assault Friends & Family Guide.
  • Use Social Media - Use #SAAM, #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth, or #SexualAssaultAwareness to post on social media. This month, use your voice and any platform you have to help end sexual assault in the U.S. and worldwide. Post your personal SAAM message on Facebook.
  • Wear the Color Teal - Show your support for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse by wearing teal — the color of sexual violence prevention — on April  6thand post a selfie to Twitter or Instagram using #SAAM2021. By wearing teal, you're signaling that you support survivors, and are a safe person to talk to if they need to reach out.
  • Start by Believing - End victim shaming. By eliminating the stigma victims suffer, providing support to victims, and increasing awareness programs, we are slowly but surely able to decrease and eliminate sexual abuse and assault.
  • Intervene as a Bystander - Stepping in when you see harmful behaviors. Anyone can take small actions to contribute to sexual violence prevention with bystander intervention. It only takes one action to stop a potential sexual assault before anyone is harmed.
  • Talk to your friends - about this issue and what you can do to prevent sexual assault.
  • Advocate - for legislation that supports survivors.
  • Incorporate policies and practices - that support violence prevention.
  • Maintain strong survivor services - making it clear that sexual violence is not tolerated. Verde Valley Sanctuary is the sole provider of services in the Verde Valley for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
  • Support the work of the Verde Valley SanctuaryShop at Verde Valley Sanctuary’s Twice Nice Thriftiques in Sedona, Cottonwood, and Camp Verde; Donate; and Volunteer.

We encourage everyone to find ways to learn more this National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is a horrific problem, but the good news is that prevention is possible.

If you have experienced sexual assault, you are not alone. There is support and safety waiting for you, and you can reach Verde Valley Sanctuary’s Crisis Helpline at (928) 634-2511.

As April passes into May, we hope that you continue to meet victims and survivors with compassion when they reach out for help, to advocate for justice, and to support the people and organizations in our communities who are doing this live-saving work of reducing harm and trauma, prioritizing accountability, and paving the way for healing.

For more information about Verde Valley Sanctuary or to make a donation, contact Community Development Director Tracey McConnell at (928) 282-2755, tracey@verdevalleysanctuary.org, or visit the website https://verdevalleysanctuary.org