Every year during April we celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) to raise awareness about the enormous impact sexual violence has on individuals, families, and communities across the World and the incredible strength, resiliency, and courage survivors embody on their journey towards healing. This month also brings forward a difficult truth. As a culture and society, we often perpetuate unhelpful myths, broken systems, and unhealthy gender stereotypes and relationships expectations that support sexual violence.

During this pandemic that requires social isolation, it brings to light even more brightly the enormous impact abuse has in our community. Children are cut off from teachers, after school programs, and school counselors who can see and report abuse or neglect happening at home that can begin processes for support and change. Individuals in abusive relationships become further isolated from family members, co-workers, religious communities, and others in their support system. In both scenarios, the quarantine may create situations for abusers to have increasing control over others and increased access and ability to harm others.

Today, it is even more important that we stand up as a UNC community to show our support to those who have been impacted by sexual violence and abuse and work towards preventing these forms of violence in our community. Your voice has power and can challenge our community to do better. If you need support, information, or resources, you can call the Assault Survivors Advocacy Program (ASAP) office to speak to a peer advocate (970-351-4040). You don’t know the difference you can make by reaching out for others.

Throughout April, ASAP will be providing events virtually that with your participation can move the movement and conversation forward. We will illustrate the personal impact sexual violence has had in our community through the Clothesline Project and UNConditional support campaign, provide spaces for our community to reflect on the issue of sexual violence with Carry That Weight and our Consciousness Raising event with the Center for Women’s and Gender Equity, and ask you to take action to show your support for survivors through Denim Day and Paint our virtual campus teal.

Many of these campaigns will be through our APAS Instagram and UNC Undergrad Facebook and Twitter platforms. Please follow us to learn more about our events and how you can engage in our calls to action and reflective conversations.

If you need help or support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the ASAP office. We have a 24/7 confidential crisis line (970-351-4040). You can also email our office at advocacy@unco.edu to ask questions or schedule a time to speak with an advocate.