April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we take the time to honor the voices and experiences of victims and survivors. The national theme for SAAM this year is Building Safe Online Spaces — where harassment, assault, and abuse are taken seriously and have no place. Whether you're online or offline, connect with respect.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, online harassment is no less harmful because it happens online. Virtual harassment can leave lasting harm, as the content is often public, un-erasable, and just as emotionally damaging as in-person harassment.

Online harassment and bullying are extremely common. Forty-one percent of Americans have been personally subjected to harassing behavior online, and an even larger share (66%) have witnessed these behaviors directed at others.

People from historically oppressed groups are more likely to be harassed online, and that harassment is likely to be more severe. Online harassment mirrors the inequalities we see elsewhere in society, often including racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, or other hate speech based on aspects of someone's identity.

Victims of online harassment often have little recourse. Due to the anonymity of the internet, many victims have no idea who is behind the harassment and have few avenues to make it stop even if they do know the person causing harm.

“Just log off” isn’t always an effective solution. Pushing the victim to no longer participate in online spaces to avoid being harassed is victim-blaming. Rather than expecting victims to change their behavior and limit their online presence, we must address the root causes of online harassment by taking the issue seriously and holding people who commit online harassment accountable. Many people rely on virtual spaces to stay connected with loved ones and have social interactions. Access to online spaces can be a healing resource for those who have experienced harassment.

Please join the Title IX Office for the SAAM Keynote: Recognizing Sexual Assault, DV, & Trafficking with Anita Ravi on April 19 at 12 noon via Zoom. Sign up here.

In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, our annual Campus Climate Survey is open. You can find the link to the survey and more details in the email from Molly O'Malley that was sent on March 30. If you have any questions, please contact Molly at momalley@neomed.edu.

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