Moments Create Movements: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Mar 23rd, 2021

By Beth Wynkoop, Prevention and Education Policy Advocate

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, where we work to build a connected community dedicated to ending sexual violence and supporting survivors. April 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the first official SAAM, and the second year in a row where the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed SAAM onto virtual, socially distanced platforms. While this may seem to be a setback or obstacle for our efforts, in fact, there is still no better time to reconsider our SAAM efforts-to look back at what we have accomplished, and to evaluate the best ways to move forward in our goals to end sexual violence.

SAAM has traditionally been focused on public awareness events and messaging. The first Rape Crisis Centers were formed in the 1970s, and early grassroots marches, public events, and awareness building soon followed. In the decades since, awareness of sexual violence has skyrocketed: an issue once considered a private, discreet matter has now entered the public dialogue, and the national conversation shows no sign of abating. With that said, this does not mean the majority of people are engaged in the movement; that people don’t believe in rape myths or victim-blaming assumptions, or that they purposefully engage in prevention behaviors. So the question we need to consider is how do we build upon this awareness and transform it into action; how do we engage a broad, diverse community in making choices year-round that move us closer to ending sexual violence?

This April, MCASA is launching a campaign to engage our communities and to guide and inform our prevention efforts in the year to come, with a focus on action and activism. Our theme is “Moments Create Movements,” and how our small actions can create major change in the sexual violence prevention movement. To launch our campaign, we want to hear from people who live and work in Maryland about small ways they help prevent sexual violence. We also want to know what people think their communities could do to better prevent sexual violence. These responses may be featured on our social media throughout April! To participate, complete this very brief form ( to respond to the two questions above, and share with your network so we can learn from people across the state. Our goal is to create a collaborative list of prevention actions that we can share with people across Maryland, and to have a to-do list of what communities need to focus on to create safe, protective spaces. In addition, we have created a brief toolkit to guide service providers in their own SAAM efforts, including best practices in prevention, and tips and tricks for online events and action campaigns.

Whether we are in person or virtual, in a room or on Zoom, we need to spur people into action that they carry with them into their day-to-day life.  We've seen evidence that prevention is possible, and when we have passionate people engaging communities, innovating and building on strategies, we can take steps each day to create safer, violence-free communities. Effective prevention is the only way we'll ever get ahead of the problem of sexual assault and create a violence-free world for future generations. What will be our contribution?

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