April is recognized as Sexual Assault Survivor Awareness Month (“SAAM”), which serves as a reminder to acknowledge and support survivors of sexual assault. Sexual assault can occur to anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, or background. It is a traumatic experience that can cause severe physical, emotional, and psychological damage to the survivor.
Sexual assault is a prevalent issue that affects millions of individuals globally. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an average of 433,648 people aged 12 or older reported experiencing rape or sexual assault each year between 2013 and 2017 in the United States alone. These numbers do not reflect the significant number of unreported cases that occur each year.
Sexual assault survivor awareness month provides an opportunity for individuals and communities to raise awareness of sexual assault, promote prevention efforts, and support survivors. The month is also an opportunity to recognize the resilience and courage of survivors who have come forward and spoken out about their experiences.
Survivors of sexual assault often experience feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and anger. They may feel isolated and struggle with trust issues, intimacy, and relationships. However, it is crucial to remember that survivors are not alone and that there is support available to them. It is important to avoid re-triggering loved ones by not believing them or questioning their behavior, reactions, or response.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, it is important to seek help and support. There are various organizations and resources available to survivors, including crisis hotlines, counseling services, and support groups. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE) is a free and confidential service that provides crisis support and referrals to local resources. There are also amazing local resources. For example, Palm Beach County Victim Services helps survivors obtain access to free therapy from professionals, among other resources.
As individuals, we can support survivors by listening to their stories, believing them, and validating their experiences. We can also educate ourselves on sexual assault and consent and work towards creating a culture of respect and consent. It is vital to remember that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, and the responsibility lies solely with the perpetrator.
Lipinski Law helps survivors of sexual abuse hold defendants accountable, including perpetrators and/or third parties who contribute to these perpetrators conducting these crimes. For a confidential consultation, call (561) 453-4800.