Building Safe Online Spaces for SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month)
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a time to build knowledge about and work on prevention of sexual violence happening in our community. Community level prevention refers to more than just communities of people within a town — it also means workplaces, campuses, organizations or any space (on-line or otherwise) that has its own policies and rules that impact others.
“Building Safe Online Spaces” is the national theme for SAAM. Now more than ever, screens and technology connect us with romantic partners, friends, family, co-workers and strangers. On-line sexual abuse can include any form of sexual harassment, exploitation, or abuse that takes place through the use of devices.
On-line harassment and bullying are extremely common: 41% of Americans have experienced on-line harassment and 66% have witnessed on-line harassment toward others. Due to the anonymity of the internet, many have no idea who is behind the harassment and have few avenues to make it stop even if they do know the perpetrator. How can we help? By building on-line communities centered on respect, inclusion and safety. These values, skills, and actions will also create healthy communities that thrive on-line and off-line.
Check out the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (www.nsvrc.org) for more resources on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Hope House (www.hopehousescw.org) is here for you with our 24/7 helpline (800–584–6790) and a full library of materials and information to get you started making a difference in this community, aiding those you know who are being affected by on-line harassment.
— Deb Bauer, Hope House Community Engagement & Volunteer Coordinator