By Lorynne Benavides—
Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) means a lot of things to me. It means more than a teal t-shirt on a Tuesday lecture or a hashtag on social media.
SAAM means having a conversation with your peers about something most people don’t feel comfortable discussing.
SAAM is for the children whose voices are too scared to be heard. SAAM is for the undeserving, and for those who haven’t yet been sexually assaulted.
Why do we cringe at the thought of having a conversation with a classmate about sexual assault, but high-five a friend for having sex at the Larry Joe Taylor Music Festival?
SAAM is for those too embarrassed to report a personal incident. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (USDJ), approximately 30 percent of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities. This means 70 percent chose not to use their voice.
SAAM is not just for the women found in an alley and taken advantage of. SAAM is also for the women and men forced to have sex with their partners, even when they didn’t want to. The USDJ reported in 2010, 25 percent of female victims of rape/sexual assault were victimized by strangers. This means 75 percent were victimized by people they already knew.
As a victim of sexual assault, I learned many things by sharing my story with others. Some people couldn’t care less, and others shared their stories as well. The important thing to me was showing others this can happen to anyone, no matter which demographic a person identifies themselves with.
We need to really understand what this month is about: spreading awareness. If we took spreading awareness seriously, maybe we could spare a life from experiencing something so traumatic. After all, SAAM exists to create awareness of such an undeserving interaction.
If you see someone on campus wearing teal or see the hashtag #SAAM on their t-shirt, know they might have a story of their own.