History of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

Because there have always been people advocating for sexual violence prevention, there is no exact date to mark the beginning of Sexual Assault and Awareness and Month (SAAM). Movements for social change and civic rights began in the United States in the 1940s and 50s. Just like the many movements born in the civil rights era, the campaign against sexual violence was limited due to social taboos and general lack of knowledge surrounding the topic. The first rape crisis center wasn’t established until 1971 in San Francisco.

The following decades held events, marches and observances relating to sexual violence to raise more awareness. In turn, legislation and funding arose supporting survivors of sexual violence such as the Violence Against Women Act in 1993. In 2000, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center was established and pooled efforts into one face of the movement with the teal ribbon. The first nationally recognized SAAM was held in the following year, 2001.

The primary goal of SAAM was awareness but by the mid-2000’s prevention was incorporated into the movement. The two goals of awareness and prevention are still the focus of the movement today. Education on healthy sexuality, consent, bystander intervention, safe online behavior, etc. can lead to prevention.