April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), an annual event led by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). This campaign to educate and engage the public in addressing the widespread issue of sexual assault is now in its 20th year of spreading awareness and prevention of sexual assault, harassment and abuse.
Its mission is simple: to end sexual violence. Keep reading—or scroll down—for events that FRCC is sponsoring this month and other ways you can get involved.
Building Safe Online Spaces
The 2021 theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is We Can Build Safe Online Spaces.
In today’s internet era, friends, family, romantic partners and strangers interact online every day, using dating apps, chats, social media and other ways to meet and connect. It’s important for people to understand that while many positive relationships can be created this way, there are also dangers in this type of interaction. Some sexual violence is initiated online and then takes place in person, or takes place entirely behind a screen.
This year, Sexual Assault Awareness Month strives to raise awareness about how we can all keep ourselves and our children safe from abuse online—and where survivors can go for support.
Preventing Sexual Assault
The NSVRC offers helpful resources for prevention that focus on this year’s theme of online environments. Stopping sexual violence—before it happens—means:
- Changing the culture of our online communities
- Keeping kids safe online
- Learning about respect and digital consent
By learning how to create respectful, inclusive and secure digital spaces, we can all help change the online environments we participate in and keep each other safe.
There’s also a lot of help available through digital resources and communities.
- Raliance offers a digital directory of rape crisis centers to link survivors with assistance in their community.
- Anyone who needs help can chat online with a trained support specialist from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
- You can also help bring awareness to the issue of sexual abuse and harassment through social media.
Taking Back the Night
According to TBtN History, Take Back the Night Foundation is the earliest worldwide effort to combat sexual violence and violence against women, tracing its roots to the 1970s, when the issue of violence against women became a topic of public conversation. The year 1972 brought the first march at the University of Southern Florida, where a group of women advocated for resources and safety for women.
Over the subsequent decades, Take Back the Night (TBtN) came to be commemorated on a Thursday in April and expanded to recognize sexualized violence in all its forms. Today, TBtN is an annual event that shatters silence and stigma of sexualized violence in order to support survivors.
“Speaking up and speaking out is one way we work together to end circumstances that allow perpetrators to act with impunity,” says FRCC faculty member Catlyn Keenan, who helps organize FRCC’s TBtN event. “It’s a way to support survivors in their healing journeys.”
Along with Keenan, faculty members Mary Ann Grim and Amy Mann co-sponsor the Feminist Uprising Collective at FRCC’s Boulder County Campus—the group that organizes the college’s annual TBtN event. Grim says that TBtN and all of its events and programs bring essential awareness to students and the FRCC community.
An “Uncomfortable” but Critical Conversation
“Sexual assault on college campuses is a big problem and a topic that we as a college need to address and talk about,” says Grim. “Catlyn (Keenan) and I—and our amazing members of our student group—feel a responsibility to our community to host this and other events and offer a safe space for people to discuss difficult, uncomfortable topics like sexual violence. We want students to be aware of the realities and know where to turn for resources and help.”
“Of everything I’ve done during my career at FRCC, Take Back the Night is what I’m most proud of,” she adds. “We’re very excited about our 2021 event.” (For more details on this year’s TBtN, scroll down to the list of FRCC-sponsored events below.)
Events Happening Around FRCC
FRCC’s Boulder County Campus held its first Take Back the Night event in 2015. Since then, it has grown to the largest annual event on campus, with more than 300 attendees and notable speakers—including state representatives, mayors and police detectives. The 2020 event was held virtually in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and this year FRCC is promoting awareness through Sexual Assault Awareness Month virtually.
Here’s what’s happening throughout April:
SAAM Action Day—April 6:
All FRCC students, faculty and staff are invited to wear teal for the SAAM Day of Action on April 6. This day is intended to show support for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse by wearing the color of sexual violence prevention. Feel free to show your support on social media too by posting a picture to Twitter or Instagram and using #SAAM2021.
Feminist Resource Fair—April 15, 1:00-2:30pm:
The Boulder County Campus student group, the Feminist Uprising Collective, elevates the voices of the unheard, advocating for gender, racial and economic equity. They’re hosting a virtual resource fair that will bring together 10 community organizations and introduce students and other attendees to the types of services and resources they offer in small breakout rooms. Organizations from Boulder Valley Women’s Health to Safe Shelter will present what they do, and the event will culminate in a group Q&A session.
Take Back the Night—April 22, 5:00-6:30pm:
FRCC is hosting a virtual Take Back the Night (TBtN) event that will be live-streamed and open to the public. In addition to hosting several speakers, Feminist Uprising Collective representatives will announce the winner of the TBtN Student Art Contest, in which students submitted written, visual and performance work related to sexual violence.
Take Back the Night
April 22, 5:00-6:30pm
Meeting ID: 919 3502 6135
- Janine D’Anniballe, Ph.D. – Dr. D’Anniballe is a licensed psychologist and nationally recognized expert in sexual assault and traumatic stress, and treatment for survivors. She is the director of trauma services at Mental Health Partners in Lafayette, has been the director of Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), the rape crisis center serving Boulder County for 20 years.
- Shay Castle – Shay is a survivor of sexual assault and journalist whose work has appeared in The Denver Post, Colorado Sun and The New York Times. She spent 6.5 years with the Boulder Daily Camera. Shay launched Boulder Beat in 2019—its mission is to connect readers to their local government through focused and digestible journalism.
- David Konter – David is a Boulder resident who is involved with Men Standing Up, a MESA program that presents to students in local schools and members of community groups about how to end sexual assault, harassment and other forms of violence against women.
Denim Day—April 28:
Denim Day is a campaign on the last Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, where people come together to practice solidarity and support survivors of rape. This day is intended to bring awareness to victim blaming and destructive thinking surrounding sexual violence. Learn more here and don’t forget to wear jeans on Wednesday, April 28.
Feminist Uprising Collective T-Shirts for Sale—All Month:
Feminist Uprising Collective is also supporting Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) by selling T-shirts until April 30. MESA provides assistance and prevention programs as well as counseling, medical, legal and criminal advocacy, ongoing support, therapy and referrals. Shirts are for sale here until April 30, or you can make a direct donation to MESA here.
Congratulations, Feminist Uprising Collective
The Colorado Community College System has selected Feminist Uprising Collective as the recipient of the Inclusive Excellence Champion Award in its 2021 Student Excellence Awards. This award recognizes students or groups that have demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on their college campus. This incredible group will be recognized in late spring 2021.
To get involved with Feminist Uprising Collective (which is based at FRCC’s Boulder County Campus but open to all students), contact professor Mary Ann Grim. And to learn more about other online events—and how to participate in the #30DaysofSAAM Challenge on Instagram—visit NSVRC’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month website.
Whether you’re a survivor, family member of a survivor, ally or concerned community member, they also provide connections to locate professional help and resources. Together, we can raise awareness about sexual violence and make a difference here in our FRCC community—and beyond.