April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and YWCA New Britain’s Sexual Assault Crisis Service (SACS) team is joining organizations across the country in raising awareness of this widespread issue to educate and engage the public.
SACS has embarked on a social media campaign focusing on the resources they provide for sexual assault survivors and their loved ones, as well as information about prevention and the prevalence of sexual assault.
SACS is sharing a poem each day during SAAM as part of their campaign. Poetry can be an expression of resistance, sorrow, joy, growth, and more for survivors and their loved ones. SACS is also posting statistics about the prevalence of sexual assault in the community to raise awareness and let survivors know they are not alone.
On April 7, the SACS team wore teal for the SAAM Day of Action, also known as Teal Tuesday. Wearing teal raises awareness of sexual violence and shows solidarity and support for survivors. SACS also launched a t-shirt giveaway so that others could join them in showing their support.
Similar to Teal Tuesday, Denim Day is a SAAM campaign that presents an inspiring and powerful opportunity to practice solidarity and show support for survivors. This year’s Denim Day falls on April 29, and the community is encouraged to join SACS in participating at home.
In addition to making SAAM efforts virtual due to COVID-19, SACS has expanded its virtual crisis counseling services to include texting and video options along with the existing 24-hour hotline and phone support.
SACS Co-Director Jessica Stepensky says that social distancing can make it especially difficult for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence to reach out for support.
“Normally, folks would be able to call our hotline and engage in phone counseling, but for some people that has become an unrealistic and unsafe option,” she explained. “Maybe they are home all day with an abusive partner and can't risk a phone call being overheard. Or maybe they are living with family or roommates and don't have anywhere to have a private conversation over the phone.”
SACS hopes that by offering more virtual options, counseling will be safer and more accessible for everyone they work with. They also want survivors and their loved ones to know that, “No matter what day or month it is, we believe you.”