You may know April for World Autism Month, Mathematics and Statistics Month or National Volunteer Month. But, it wasn’t until April 1, 2001, when the United States observed its first Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While you may have known that, did you know that each year the National Sexual Violence Resource Center chooses a focused theme to make everyone aware of the prevention of sexual assault? Their 2017 theme is “Engaging New Voices” which brings to the forefront that the whole community and world must have their eyes open to sexual assaults, illegal trafficking, and other such crimes.
In the wake of much publicized news, the Marine Corps recently published new guidelines for active duty Marines on social media, while news of possible criminal impact to University of Pennsylvania staff surrounding the guilty charges of Jerry Sandusky have made the front page of our newspapers. It is everyone’s mission to be engaged and if they see something, they must say something. Silence cannot be an option.
Every year, VA also chooses a national theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and engages in activities to raise awareness of sexual assault, with a particular focus on sexual assault and sexual harassment occurring during military service – also known as “military sexual trauma” or MST. The national 2017 theme dovetails nicely with VA’s 2017 theme of “Standing Together to Empower Military Sexual Trauma Survivors.”