April is here and that means it’s time to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Started in 2001, this nationally recognized event has roots dating back centuries. Black women and women of color championed those early efforts and continue to provide the leadership for our movement today, addressing the intersectional realities of race and gender and the vulnerability of those who share these identities in a white supremacist culture. You can learn more here: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam/2022/about/historyofsaam.
So what does SAAM mean to us in 2022?
Given the many ways that sexual violence intersects with historical and current social justice struggles, JDI is committed to uplifting sexual assault survivors in each aspect of our work. Our policy priorities and training agenda address how sexual violence has far reaching negative outcomes ranging from economic to physical and mental health and incarceration.
We know that sexual assault programs and rape crisis centers are stretched to meet the needs of those experience sexual violence in their communities.
–> Our advocacy for the #VOCABridge and other state and federal funding aims to ensure that programs have the resources to maintain services and continue to expand their outreach to underserved communities. Learn more and find action steps here: https://bit.ly/VOCABridgeToolkit.
We have heard the testimony by current and formerly incarcerated women recounting how women who have survived sexual assault, domestic violence, or trafficking prior to incarceration are over-represented in jails and prisons as a result of policies and practices that target low-income Black, indigenous, and other people of color. Moreover these systems inflict additional harm and trauma on those who are incarcerated and their families.
–> Our support for S2030 to put a moratorium on building new women’s prisons in Massachusetts aims to direct our resources to real solutions that address community safety and accountability and fully implement reforms passed by this legislature to reduce the number of individuals entering Massachusetts prisons and jails. Learn more here: https://linktr.ee/MoratoriumBill.
–> You can also show your support in person on April 9 and 10 in Framingham at the “Let her GrOw!” rally and door knocking and future virtual phonebanks organized by Families for Justice as Healing. For details and to sign up, click here: https://secure.everyaction.com/p/NJ9kQ4FfG0eDCHcxWm3b-A2
We have witnessed how sexual harassment, assault, and abuse can happen anywhere, including in personal, community and workplace online spaces, and can happen to anyone, from teens to adults.
–> Our social media this month will share Building Safe Online Spaces Together resources from our national partners at NSVRC so we can all learn to practice digital consent, intervene when we see harmful content and behaviors, and promote online communities that value respect, inclusion, and safety. Learn more here: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam/2022/learn.
We know that healing is a journey, and we are on a journey together to create healing spaces, services, and responses that are trauma informed and survivor led.
–> We will uplift the rape crisis centers in your community and national resources such as the new self-guided digital healing platform, Survivor’s Sanctuary, created by Me.Too.International that will be launched soon. Sign up with this link: https://secure.everyaction.com/Slvt1sON0Eu7iKzVx33yhA2?.
These are just a few ways that JDI will uplift SAAM this April.
We invite you to join us in raising awareness and visibility about sexual violence, educating ourselves and our communities about prevention, promoting available support and resources for victim-survivors, and deepening understanding that healing is a journey and no one’s experience is exactly the same.
The JDI Team