This April, the national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign, as presented by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, will focus on the theme prevention is possible.
Prevention aims to stop sexual violence before it has a chance to happen. It is possible to create communities where everyone is treated with respect and equality. This can be done by promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies, and healthy relationships. Prevention strategies that address the root causes and social norms that allow sexual violence in the first place are the most effective.
This means making the connection between all forms of oppression (including racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and others). All forms of oppression contribute to sexual violence. Oppression condones violence, uses power over others, and excuses unfair treatment and harm. Oppression creates a culture in which inequality thrives and violence is seen as normal. Many communities are already reducing the risk of sexual violence through efforts that promote safety, respect, equality, and accountability.
Prevention is everyone’s responsibility
What you can do
As individuals, all of us have a role to play in creating safe environments. We can all:
- Believe survivors
- Stop being a bystander and intervene to stop problematic and disrespectful behavior
- Promote and model healthy attitudes, behaviors, and relationships
What communities can do
Communities and organizations also have a role to play in serving as leaders on this issue by:
- Creating and strengthening policies to promote safety, equality, and respect
- Assessing the risks in their environment
- Promoting respectful behaviours
- Providing support for survivors
- Holding those who harm others accountable
What businesses can do
- Promote prevention and support for survivors through policies and education
- Model healthy attitudes and relationships with clients
- Promote positive messages and behaviours through marketing campaigns and advertising content
- Invest funding to make sexual violence prevention a social responsibility priority
Examples of prevention in action
Employers, schools, and community settings can create proactive policies to promote a safer environment. For example:
- Conduct trainings on how staff can contribute to positive workplace norms through bystander intervention
- Display prevention messages and promote community resources at your school or business
- Find resources to learn more about prevention efforts and get involved
Be a part of the solution
The time for prevention is now. Join us in promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies, and healthy relationships. Your efforts are important and necessary. Together, we can create safe and equitable communities where every person is treated with respect.