April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM). On March 31, Safe Berks staff held a special SAAM kickoff event. During this event, “Recognizing & Remembering Survivors of Sexual Assault,” Safe Berks staff planted 250 pinwheels. These pinwheels symbolize local survivors of sexual assault.
Each pinwheel is inscribed with the Safe Berks logo, and inspiring messages including, “There is Hope” and “You are Not Alone.” There will also be signs with the message, “Prevention Begins with Awareness.”
The statistics are staggering. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), 81% of women and 43% of men experience some form of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault in their lifetime; and one in five women experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.
“Sexual Assault Awareness Month is so important because it brings attention to the impact that sexual violence has on our community,” said Ashley Moyer, Director of Education and Outreach Programs at Safe Berks. “Taking the time to recognize and remember survivors of sexual assault not only brings awareness to communities, but it provides an opportunity to educate others on how to prevent sexual violence.”
After planting the pinwheels, Safe Berks staff watched the film, “The Hunting Ground,” followed by a discussion. This documentary focuses on sexual assaults on college campuses in the United States, and the toll these crimes take on student survivors and their families.
Throughout the month of April, Safe Berks staff will share thousands of teal ribbons, along with information about our free services for survivors. These teal ribbons will be distributed at hospitals, healthcare offices, restaurants, shops, community organizations, and at many other locations and events throughout Berks County.
The Safe Berks Education and Outreach Department will provide weekly educational webinars throughout April on the following topics: Sexual Assault 101, Understanding the Difference Between Equity and Equality, Sexual Assault Issues in the LGBTQ+ Community, and Sexual Assault Issues in the Hispanic Community. These webinars are offered in both English and Spanish, and will be released on the Safe Berks Facebook page.
Safe Berks staff will also collaborate with local colleges and community organizations to support SAAM events and will share messages of support and awareness on our social media, which includes Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
April 2023 marks the official 22nd anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year, the theme of SAAM is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” This year’s campaign calls on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect. Safe Berks recognizes that it will take ending all forms of oppression to end sexual harassment, assault, and abuse.
Each year, Safe Berks provides services to thousands of local survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Services include shelter, counseling, legal services, community outreach and response, medical advocacy, and education.
Safe Berks, founded in 1976 as Berks Women in Crisis, provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Services are available in all languages. The Safe Berks 24-hour hotline is 844-789-SAFE (7233) or text the words SAFE BERKS to 20121.