April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Local Events Coming up, via The Daily Bulldog:
**Please Note: Since this article has been published, some changes have been made to the movie/discussion nights. The showing of “The Mask You Live In” on April 17th has been canceled due to scheduling conflicts, and will be show instead of “Misrepresentation” on April 22nd, at 5:30 PM in Thomas Auditorium at UMF**
National Sexual Assault Awareness Month happens across the country, every year, to educate the public and raise awareness around issues of sexual violence. These efforts can include informational presentations, community events, and social media campaigns, to name a few. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the sexual assault awareness movement began in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the end of the 1990s that the entire month of April was designated to the cause.
For April 2015, the slogan for SAAM in Maine is: “Consent looks different to each of us. All you have to do is ask.” Consent does look different to each of us, because we all communicate and express ourselves in different ways. For some people that expression may be verbal, and for others it may be non-verbal. It is important to know how to ask for consent, and to know how to respond when someone gives or does not give consent. Consent is the essential component in any sexual interaction, and if it is not freely given, it is assault. This is why good communication is a key aspect of healthy sexuality.
Healthy sexuality is having the knowledge, and a sense of empowerment to express one’s sexuality. This knowledge and empowerment not only contributes positively to one’s self-esteem, but also to their relationships with others.
Both consent and healthy sexuality contribute to sexual violence prevention, and they also support sexual assault survivors. Healthy sexuality supports survivors by acknowledging that their body is their own, that they control their sexuality, and that they have the right to expect their sexual partners to be respectful of their boundaries.
The more we talk about healthy ways to engage with one another, the closer we get to a culture that is free of sexual violence.
• Each year, 13,000 Mainers will experience sexual violence
• Approximately 7.7 percent of Maine high school students report that they have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse
• A recent study found that nearly one in five adult Maine residents reports that they have been the victim of rape or attempted rape during their lifetime (Source: www.mecasa.org)
At Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services (SAPARS), we work towards preventing and eliminating sexual violence in Franklin, Androscoggin, and Oxford counties. Please join us at our upcoming events that are free, and open to the public in Franklin County.
On the following Wednesdays in April, we will be having movie and discussion nights at the University of Maine at Farmington: “The Mask You Live In” on April 15, and “Misrepresentation” on April 22. All films will be shown at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Auditorium, which is located in the Roberts Learning Center building.
On Wednesday, April 29 we will be holding the 17th annual March for Violence-Free Communities. Participants will gather outside of the UMF Student Center on South Street at 5:30 p.m. The march will be followed by a Speak Out that will take place in the North Dining Hall, which is located inside of the UMF Student Center. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information about Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services (SAPARS) or our services, please visit our website at www.sapars.org or call us at 778-9522. The statewide, toll free, 24-hour sexual assault crisis and support helpline is 1-800-871-7741.
– Submitted by FCDV Task Force Member Agency: Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services
The Franklin County Domestic Violence Task Force is a coalition of agencies and concerned citizens with a mission to lead and empower local people to end domestic violence. For more information about the FCDVTF, please contact Kelley Glidden at (207)795-6744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.