SRVSS Office participates in Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sierra Allen Student Life [email protected]

With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States, a goal is set to raise public awareness about sexual violence and advocate ways to prevent it from occurring.

Originally, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault dedicated a week for the cause in the late ’80s, but by the late ’90s, many advocates began hosting events throughout the entire month of April. This advanced the idea of a nationally recognized month, which led to April becoming the official SAAM.

SAAM was first nationally observed in April 2001 and is supported by NSVRC, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Although Jennifer O’Connell, director for Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services (SRVSS) at Kent State, creates university programs throughout the academic year. She said April is an especially important month. 

“It allows it to be the forefront of what’s going on and it really gives survivors a voice because their voice has been silenced by the assault, often times,” O’Connell said. “Having a month to put the issue out there and talk about the issue and how it impacts people gives them the opportunity to speak out. It also raises awareness of not only it happening, but the reality of it as well.”

Asia Davis is a freshman sociology major and former employee of both a domestic violence and rape crisis center. She thinks SAAM is also important because it is an issue that affects a large portion of the population. 

“We still live in a misogynistic society where victims of sexual assault are taught to blame themselves and to be ashamed of what was done to them,” she said. “I used the word misogynistic because it is especially true for male victims who are often ridiculed and made fun of for being assaulted, as if it’s unmanly to be taken advantage of.”

Sexual assault is often considered an issue unique to women, but it also occurs in the LGBTQ community, among women of color and to men. According to O’Connell, sexual assault happens to men at rates that are higher than what is typically stated because men are less likely to report. 

Having a resource center on campus is important because victims are more likely to reach out for help due to its close proximity.

“It’s important to have these resources available on campus environments because it is convenient, serves students and is beneficial for the student population,” said Jessica Ransom, a graduate student majoring in health education and promotion.

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, nearly one in five women is a survivor of rape and one in two women as well as one in five men have experienced a form of sexual violence in their lives.

“We all have a role to play (in) preventing it,” O’Connell said. “It’s not just a women’s issue; it’s not just my responsibility (to keep) myself from being assaulted. It’s our community’s responsibility to look out for one another and come together as a community and do something about (preventing it from) happening. We have to speak out and say ‘this is not okay.’ We need to do better as a community, as a culture in keeping each other safe.’”

The SRVSS office serves as a space for everyone to receive support, with no gender attachment to it. Helpful resources are always available for those in need and there will be ways to get involved throughout the month of April, including Walk a Mile in Their Shoes and the Green Dot Workshop. More information can be found on the SRVSS office website at

Sierra Allen is a student life reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].