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History of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April has been informally considered Sexual Assault Awareness Month for many years, but Congress and the president have failed to recognize it as such. In the past, advocates have worked with a bi-partisan group of congressional supporters to pass resolutions for other monthly observances important to women, including Women's History Week (which was later changed to the month of March) and Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. A congressional resolution needs to be passed only two or three times, and then it becomes part of the national culture. Advocates still have to pressure the president to issue a proclamation, but soon even that will no longer be necessary as political leaders, the media, schools, communities and the nation take the issue seriously.

Throughout the United States, people recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Rape crisis centers throughout the nation agreed upon this date during a meeting of the membership of the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault in the late 1980’s. The purpose was to coordinate at a nationwide level to educate and promote understanding about men’s sexual violence and its prevention.

The purpose of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to increase the public’s understanding about men’s sexual violence in our society. This effort can help communities support rape and sexual assault survivors, victims, and their families, as well as the individuals and agencies that provide rape crisis intervention and prevention services throughout the year. It is also a time to encourage the public to take steps to address men’s sexual violence. The hope is that a month of intensified awareness efforts combined with the broad spectrum of sexual violence awareness work throughout the year will bring us closer to ending men’s sexual assault.

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