Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 2013 - Outreach, Advocacy, and Healing for All

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1in6 urges colleges and universities to remember the silent male survivor during their Sexual Assault Awareness Month (S.A.A.M.) events this April 2013.

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Making sure you have adequate resources is just as important as outreach.

With this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) almost upon us, people are engaged, inspired and challenged to reach more students than ever before. Many campus awareness campaigns are brilliantly successful. The perfect recipe for effective outreach is specific to the school culture, media headlines and the all-powerful budget.

What if awareness educators do find that perfect mix of ingredients? What happens when the information reaches the target population? Does the school's mental health department have a higher intake rate? Do hotline numbers skyrocket? So much time is spent creating the events that the scope of impact is often forgotten. "Making sure you have adequate resources is just as important as outreach.", says Martha Marin Community Education, Outreach & Awareness Director for 1in6.

Triggers are everywhere during the month of SAAM. This year’s campaign also puts a spotlight on childhood sexual abuse and the adults dealing with its effects. For many, college is a time where students engage in new relationships and more importantly a great deal of introspection. Students are forming connections with people who may influence their current and future standing in the community and this may stir abuse reactive feelings. Undoubtedly, these new relationships can challenge any student’s learned form of communication and capacity to set and respect boundaries.

Men—well known to be silent-survivors of childhood sexual abuse—are usually just seen as supporters of female survivors. Men are asked to “Walk In Our Shoes” and to “Step-Up” as bystanders. In the understandable focus on women, some forget that men also may be triggered and recall their own experiences with abuse. Research says that one in every six male (students, faculty and staff included) have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood and others have experienced abusive sexual interactions as adults. Have universities missed the mark? Are schools prepared to also support the men on campus who have had those unwanted or abusive sexual experiences?

Many experienced in advocacy and prevention education can admit that much of the work revolves primarily around the 1 in 4 females that will or have experienced sexual violence on campus. Service providers have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn how to better respond to other underserved populations, including men. As many know there are very few resources specific to male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

1in6 is inspired to offer the much-requested resources to students, educators, and administrators. Campus coordinators and concerned students are invited to be involved in an exciting and safe discussion concerning the advocacy and healing of all survivors on your campus. Contact 1in6 for hope, information, and healing.

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Martha Marin

Martha Marin
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