In America, one in four women will experience sexual assault on their college campus. All told in this country, 293,000 people are sexually assaulted each year. That means every 107 seconds another individual is being sexually assaulted, and in most of these cases the victim knows their attacker.
Being sexually assaulted is more than just a physical assault, in most cases it causes years of psychological problems. Often times survivors feel ashamed or responsible for the assault that has been made against them. Statistics tell us that victims are four times more likely to contemplate suicide after a sexual assault.
With these facts in mind, California State University, Sacramento is holding a full month of activities during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is an effort to bring sexual violence awareness, prevention, and victim advocacy to campus for survivors.
“Sac State is committed to addressing this issue, providing victim-centered support, and creating a safe community where our students can succeed and thrive,” says Reva Wittenberg, the associate director of campus wellness for University’s Student Health and Counseling Services.
Sacramento State started off this event with a visit from the Red Shoe, a 9-foot-tall high heeled shoe, that is a symbol for the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” campaign. This campaign aims to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. The president of Sacramento State College, Robert S. Nelsen, spoke as did representatives from the University’s Student Health and Counseling Services, Associated Students Inc., and Women Escaping a Violent Experience.
Other activities for the month will include the 15th annual Sac State “Take Back the Night” march, a “Men Who Ask” workshop, a signing of the White House-led “It’s On Us” pledge which aims to put an end to sexual assault on college campuses, and Denim Day which is a day that aims to bring awareness to the misconceptions about sexual assault.
In light of all this on April 7th Assembly-members Kevin McCarty and Lorena Gonzalez passed the AB 1661 bill. This bill requires all elected officials to take a mandatory sexual harassment course within their first 6 months of taking office and also forces them to retake this course every two years.
“It is our hope that by requiring sexual harassment prevention training for local elected officials, we can prevent the harassment that derails lives and careers as well as save cities from having to pay valuable taxpayer dollars on settlements,” says Michelle Pariset from Sacramento Collective for Women’s Rights.
This bill will close the loophole from the existing law that makes it possible for elected officials to get out of the sexual harassment training education courses. AB 1661 will not make it a requirement and absolutely mandatory for every local elected official.
To keep up with all the upcoming events at Sac State, click here for more information.
If you or a friend have ever been a victim of sexual assault and need help, you can call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to reach a completely confidential support organization.