Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018 Invest In Prevention

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) is excited to partner with public officials, college campuses, law enforcement, victim advocates and communities across California to raise awareness. Over the past year, we have witnessed sexual assault receive national attention through the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp. Survivors who once suffered in silence for decades have found the courage to publicly speak out and have been greeted by a society no longer tolerant of rape and abuse. As we enter Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), we have the opportunity to continue to create positive change.

In February, CALCASA released a new report The Costs and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California. The report was commissioned by CALCASA in an effort to create greater comprehension of the physical, emotional, social, and economic impact of rape and sexual assault upon California taxpayers. For some, the idea of discussing the economic impact of sexual harassment and violence appears unseemly. While sexual harassment and assault are very personal, in order to understand their impact, we need to look at them in the aggregate and in their environments. Families, friends, partners neighbors, and co-workers know first hand the time and resources necessary to recover from sexual violence. But never before has there been a comprehensive, quantitative analysis of how much this utterly preventable crime costs the state. In collectivizing rapes and other acts of sexual violence, we can see their broader impact.

At a minimum, the report reveals how ALL Californians have an investment in eliminating sexual violence. This year CALCASA’s focus for Sexual Assault Awareness Month brings out key components of our report in order to create greater comprehension of the physical, emotional, social, and economic impact of rape and sexual assault. We believe, and the research demonstrates, that building thriving communities and supporting healthy relationships can prevail over sexual violence and we can do this by investing in prevention.

We need to focus on prevention in response to the impacts of sexual violence in our communities. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, CALCASA developed resources to share the consequences of rape and sexual assault, enhance the visibility of our efforts to end sexual violence, and the need to move forward with prevention. Focusing on prevention can help strengthen and grow the support for survivors and our communities.

CALCASA is honored to support the 84 rape crisis center and rape prevention programs that serve all of California, provide survivors with a place to turn in their time of need, and take action to prevent sexual violence. The time for survivors is now, to support and elevate their voices, and the time for prevention is now.

What will you do for Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Join CALCASA’s effort with the Partnership for $50 Million to end sexual and domestic violence here.

If you are a victim/survivor of sexual violence, help is available. Victims can call the free and confidential National Sexual Assault Helpline 1-800-656-4673 or find their local agency at http://www.calcasa.org/agencies/

Sandra Henriquez

Sandra Henriquez is CALCASA’s Chief Executive Officer. She has more than two decades of experience working in social services, of which 16 years were in non-profit management. She had demonstrated profound leadership as the former Associate Director for Intervention Programs at the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (now Peace Over Violence). She also served on CALCASA’s board of directors for more than a decade. Her participation on the board was essential to the Coalition’s reorganization, hiring of staff, and the development in policies and procedures.

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