Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States. People take this time to raise awareness about sexual violence, how to prevent it from occurring, and how to support those who have experienced sexual violence.  It has a long history of grassroots, feminist activism, and has evolved to include advocacy for anyone who may experience or witness this type of harm.

EMU Title IX and SAAM

Part of the mission of EMU’s Title IX Office is to respond, address, and prevent the affects of sexual violence. Within this mission we offer continued education, raise awareness, and focus on the prevalence of sexual violence and how it affects our university’s community. The Title IX Office is proud to recognize and participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month each April, and similar efforts throughout the year.

Resources & Information

  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month History & Timeline Expand dropdown

    2018: Dr. Ford, a college professor from California, testifies when it was announced that Justice Brett Kavanaugh would be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. She spoke out about an attempted sexual assault by Kavanaugh when they were in high school. 

    2017: The Women’s March was held on January 21, 2017 in response to the 2016 presidential election. 

    2017: In 2017, former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was convicted on seven counts of criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing over 150 girls he was supposed to be treating. At his sentencing hearing, more than 200 women who had survived his abuse read their victim impact statements aloud.

    2016: Emily Doe’s Victim Impact Statement Goes Viral. ​​Doe’s statement gave a vivid, well-crafted voice to the experiences of countless other survivors. Three years later, in 2019, the author of the statement revealed that her name was Chanel Miller when she published a memoir called Know My Name expounding on the assault, the court case, and the subsequent attention.

    2014: Under President Obama, the White House formed a task force to create trainings and share guidance around preventing sexual assault on college campuses.

    2013: The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 included expansions to address gaps in services for victims of sexual assault on Native American reservations. The 2013 VAWA renewal also included updated protections for immigrant women and anti-discrimination provisions to protect LGBT victims from being denied access to services.

    2011: The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights "Dear Colleague" letter provided guidance to all federally funded institution of higher education to take steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence on their campuses.

    2010: SAAM campaign becomes bilingual and offers awareness materials in both English and Spanish.

    2009: President Barack Obama declares April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

    2009: The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act Signed Into Law. Named in honor of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was beaten to death in 1998, and James Byrd Jr., a Black man who was murdered by three white supremacists the same year, this act expanded hate crimes to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

    2006: Tarana Burke, activist, community organizer, and advocate coined the term MeToo. She began using the phrase “Me Too” in 2006 to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual abuse and assault, particularly for Black women and girls while working at a nonprofit she founded focused on the well-being of young women of color.

    2005: The NSVRC shifts sexual assault awareness to include prevention of sexual violence as well.

    2005: Violence Against Women Act is reauthorized.

    2001: The NSVRC holds the first nationally recognized Sexual Assault Awareness campaign.

    2000: The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) is opened.

    1999: The first Denim Day in LA event was held in April of 1999, and has continued annually since. The campaign began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.

    1993: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is signed. VAWA requires law enforcement to address gender violence as a crime. It also provides survivors of sexual violence and their children with more protection.

    1991: Anita Hill, a lawyer, brought claims of sexual harassment against Justice Clarence Thomas before his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

    1978: The first Take Back the Night event is held in San Francisco.

    1976: 400+ rape crisis centers are opened across the nation.

    1971: The first Rape Crisis Center is established in San Fransico by the Bay Area Women Against Rape.

    1971: New York Radical Feminists hosted the first sexual assault awareness speak out event.

    1940-1950s: Activists begin to gain the attention of the masses for sexual assault awareness. Many of the leaders in the sexual assault awareness movement were also activists in the Civil Rights movement. One of the most notable sexual assault activists of the time being Rosa Parks, who worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to address race and gender and sexual violence.

    1900s: The beginning of notable grassroot efforts for sexual assault awareness and prevention.

  • Activists and Leaders in the Movement against Sexual Violence Expand dropdown

    Many leaders in the sexual assault awareness and prevention movement were and are Black women and women of color.

    Peggy Bird (Kewa), Darlene Correa (Laguna Pueblo) and Genne James (Navajo), “organized the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) in 1996 to provide support to other Native advocates working in domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and sex trafficking in New Mexico’s tribal communities.”

    Tarana Burke: “[A] civil rights activist best known as the original founder of the #MeToo movement, which she started in 2006. The movement became a global phenomenon in 2017 when thousands of women shared their experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault on social media.”

    Chuck Christian: “The first former Michigan football player to tell the public that Anderson, who worked at U-M from 1968 to 2003 and died in 2008, had abused him.”

    Sandra Henriquez of ValorUS: “[She] has decades of experience working with survivors in California. She currently leads ValorUS (formerly known as the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault or CALCASA), which is a coalition of 32 rape crisis centers that has played a critical role in shaping national policy around response to gender-based and sexual violence. Prior to joining ValorUS, Henriquez co founded RALIANCE, the national partnership to end sexual violence and also served as executive director for Peace Over Violence, which is an organization dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence.”

    Anita Hill: “A lawyer, activist and educationist who laid allegations of sexual harassment against a U.S. Supreme Court Justice named Clarence Thomas. Hill went on to educate and write on the intersections of race, gender, and sexual violence.”

    Jackson Katz: “Co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), one of the longest-running and most widely influential gender violence prevention programs in North America, and the first major program of its kind in the sports culture and the military.”

    Brian Lewis: “A survivor and prominent figure in advocating for male victims of sexual assault in the military.”

    Chanel Miller: “[A] writer and artist. Her memoir Know My Name transform[ed] the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing.”

    Rebecca Nagle: “An American activist, writer and public speaker. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Nagle is one of the founders of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, an organization led by artists and activists who attempt to promote a culture of consent.”

    Amanda Nguyen: “CEO, president and founder of Rise, a non-governmental civil rights organization. Its mission is to work with state legislatures and the US Congress to pass protection laws for victims of sexual assault.”

    Andrea Pino: “A queer civil rights activist, author, and scholar who has advocated to end gender-based violence on college campuses. A founder of the Title IX advocacy group End Rape on Campus.”

    Slyvia Rivera: “Along with Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera led what would become the Stonewall Inn Riots and is credited for sparking the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. A survivor of child sexual abuse, Rivera also was a member of the Gay Activists Alliance and the Gay Liberation Front. She also opened STAR, a shelter for transgender youth experiencing homelessness. Rivera remains a pivotal example of how intersectionality must be applied to activism in order to reduce social inequities.” 

    Bamby Salcedo: “An immigrant activist, writer, and president of the [email protected] Coalition (TLC), a California-based organization with a mission to advocate for better quality of life for trans women.”

    Thresa Stevens: “Is a Menominee, works with Native women and men in Milwaukee who fall victim to this violence and suffer from trauma. As the Native American Advocate for Women and Children at Healing Intergenerational Roots (HIR) Wellness Institute, she helps people find resources, gets them to a safe space, and if they want, she connects them to counselors at HIR Wellness.”

    Emma Sulkowicz: “Is known for her 2014 Mattress Performance, in which she carried a mattress around Columbia University to represent the uphill battle survivors face when they report their assault.”

    Jon Vaughn: “[A] former University of Michigan football player who is leading the fight for thousands of survivors of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Dr. Robert Anderson over the course of nearly forty years. He engaged in 100 days of live-in protest on the Ann Arbor campus — forcing a bright light to be shone on a dark issue plaguing multiple universities across the country. The filmmakers spent protest day 62 with Jon, capturing a remarkable story of resilience, bravery and hope.”

    Wagatwe Wanjuki: “A feminist activist, speaker, writer, and digital strategist best known for her work as a national campus anti-violence advocate. Since launching a campaign for a better sexual assault policy at Tufts University in 2009, she's continued to work for a world free of gender-based violence.”

    Raquel Willis: “A thought leader on gender, race and intersectionality. She’s experienced in online publications, organizing marginalized communities for social change, non-profit media strategy and public speaking while using digital activism as a major tool of resistance and liberation…she developed Black Trans Circles, a project of TLC, focused on developing the leadership of Black trans women in the South and Midwest by creating healing justice spaces to work through oppression-based trauma and incubating community organizing efforts to address anti-trans murder and violence.

  • Sources  Expand dropdown

Skip Section Navigation