Spread Awareness and Know the Signs of Sexual Assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and here at Coastline College, we want to spread awareness and share tips on how to stop sexual assault.

Sexual assault awareness month banner with three circles at the top.Shutterstock

Do you know the definition of consent? Consent means agreement to allow something to happen or agreement to do something. 

Saying “yes” to a cup of tea is giving consent. Saying “yes” to watching a movie is giving consent. Saying “yes” to sexual advances is giving consent. But.. before engaging in any contact, physical or sexual, you should always ask for consent.

Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. You can help make a difference by knowing the signs of sexual assault and making an effort to stop it. 

Large hand that says no means noShutterstock

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact (even a slight touch) that you do not give your consent to. Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of gender or race. 

Sexual Assault can include:

  • Sexual contact with someone who cannot give consent (someone who is underage or passed out/unresponsive)
  • Sexual contact with someone who does not give consent 
  • Rape
  • Attempted Rape

Not all sexual assault is physical. It can also include unwanted verbal or visual actions. These actions can include:

  • Someone watching private acts
  • Sexual harassment or threats
  • Sending unwanted sexual texts or emails

History of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While officially recognized in 2001, sexual assault awareness has been an issue women’s rights groups have been bringing attention to since the Civil Rights Era of the ’40s and ’50s. Through the decades, women’s rights groups called for legislature and funding to support survivors. 

A significant breakthrough for assault victims came in 1993 when the Violence Against Women Act (VAMA) was passed. This act provided $1.6 billion toward the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. It helped create responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. 

In 2000, the newly launched National Sexual Violence Resource Center polled sexual violence coalitions on their preferred color, symbol, and month for sexual assault awareness activities. The teal ribbon was decided on as a symbol for sexual assault awareness, and SAAM was created. 

Women with signs protesting


Risk Reduction Tips

These tips may be able to help reduce acts of sexual assault.

  • Let your limits be known
  • Say “No” firmly and loudly
  • Find someone and ask for help
  • Keep an eye on your friends and ask them to keep an eye on you - keep each other responsible

Tips on How To Help

Coastline Title IX Director Leighia Fleming shared advice on how to help someone if they come to you for help.

  1. Listen 
  2. Believe 
  3. Be Aware of Your Language (don’t ask what the victim was wearing; it doesn’t help)
  4. Be a Resource (Be aware, know your sources, be able to give options)

“Everyone is going to deal with it differently,” said Director Fleming.

Women with signs saying its a dress not a yes


You Are Not Alone

Coastline College has a duty to it’s students, faculty, and staff to create a safe environment. Coastline offers resources and programs to help stop sexual assault including remote services, programs, classes, and opportunities to connect which you can find on the Title IX page.

In a digital world, it is more important now more than ever to maintain a safe digital space. If you are or know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, there are numerous resources to get help. Keep in mind it is not your fault and you are not alone. 

You can reach out to Coastline College if you need to report an incident that happened on campus or in an online class. https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?CoastColleges&layout_id=3

There are also off-campus resources available:

Domestic Violence Assistance Programs

Sexual Assault Victim Services/Rape Crisis

Casa di la Familia

Mariposa Women & Family Center

Victim Referral Services

This year we hope you spread awareness to help stop sexual assault. Remember, always ask for consent, even if you think the answer is yes.

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