According to a study by the National Victim Center, 1.3 women aged 18 and over are raped every minute in the United States, which calculates to more than 683,000 per year.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During the next few weeks, activists around the country are planning events that will teach assault victims about the assistance available to them and encourage people to work to prevent rape and sexual assault.
SAAM has been in effect nationally for about 30 years; the Santa Barbara area has recognized it for the past 15 years.
Silvia Urive, a coordinator at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, said the vast majority of sexual assault cases in the county go undocumented. She said that although 500 new clients for rape and sexual assault came to the Rape Crisis Center last year, law enforcement only saw 63 cases – just over 10 percent. Urive said this disparity demonstrates just how underreported this type of violence currently goes.
“One in three women has been a victim of sexual assault.” Urive said. “One in nine men has been a victim, which means that all of us know at least one person who has been sexually assaulted.”
Urive said this month is dedicated to the victims of sexual assault crimes and is intended to help stamp out such violence.
Part of the observance of SAAM is wearing a purple ribbon to support assault victims and oppose sexual assault. Ribbons are available at Montecito Bank and Trust, Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, YMCA, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Clinics, Toyota of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College.
Student groups at UCSB are also participating in this nationwide event and have a variety of activities planned. Instead of purple ribbons, however, groups have decided to promote sexual assault awareness through blue T-shirts and buttons bearing the slogan “It Affects Me.” Students are asked to wear their shirts as often as possible during the month to increase visibility of their cause.
“We want the whole campus to realize that sexual assault affects everybody either directly or indirectly,” Sarah Crowley, coordinator for Students Stopping Rape (SSR), said.
SSR will be in the Arbor from April 7-10, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with T-shirts, buttons and answers to questions about sexual assault.
A rally will be held Tuesday in Storke Plaza from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to share information about the ways sexual assault and rape culture transforms and affects the lives of everyone.
“It’s all about raising consciousness that sexual assault is every person’s issue because we live under the same systems of oppressions,” said Kim Stiner, member of Take Back the Night (TBTN), another student organization that is participating in this month’s activities.
TBTN will be holding events from April 14 through April 18, starting with an opening rally at noon in Storke Plaza, and ending with a rally and march in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park on Thursday, April 17 at 5 p.m. The rally will include bands, dancers, self-defense demonstrations and keynote speaker Margarita Alcantara-Tan – editor of the Asian women’s magazine Bamboo Girl.
For more information on the weeklong affairs including open-mic night, workshops and an art night, stop by the Women’s Center to pick up a schedule.