Sexual violence in any form poses a threat to members of our community. Statistics show one in five women and one in 67 men experience rape at some point in their lives (Smith et al., 2017). April 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM, which provides a critical opportunity to raise awareness of sexual violence, educate our communities about preventing and responding to sexual assault, and stand in support of survivors. In the past, The Bridge to Hope has brought awareness to sexual violence in a variety of different ways. This year, because of Covid-19, The Bridge will be hosting a series of virtual events to educate, empower, and engage our community. We know one month isn’t enough to solve the serious and widespread issue of sexual violence. However, the attention April generates gives us an opportunity to energize and expand discussion and prevention efforts throughout the year.
The Bridge to Hope’s 2021 SAAM Events:
Survivor Love Letters – Month Long
In 2012, on the anniversary of her rape, filmmaker and activist Tani Ikeda wrote a letter to her younger self that ended with the words, “This is my survivor love letter.” Throughout the month of April, survivors and allies in the community will have the opportunity to write letters to their younger, current or future selves, or to survivors to let them know that they are believed, supported and loved. We will accept submissions online or through the decorated mailbox located in the entryway of our building. These letters will be read by our advocates during our virtual presentation at the end of the month on the 27th.
Coffee Sleeves and Consent – Month Long
Please check out Menomonie’s local coffee shops and nutrition shops during the month of April to see our “We <3 Consent” coffee sleeves and support local businesses!
SAAM Virtual Presentation – Walking with A Survivor – April 27th, 6:00 pm via Zoom
Join our advocates at The Bridge to Hope as we speak with community partners including representatives from the Menomonie Police Department, Dunn County Sheriff’s Office, Dunn County District Attorney’s Office, Mayo Hospital (SANE nurse), and UW-Stout, where we will be walking through a survivor’s journey after an assault. At the end, we will read the Survivor Love Letters and survivors will have an opportunity to speak if they choose to.
Denim Day – April 28th
Denim Day is an international protest responding to the Italian Supreme Court’s overruling of a rape conviction in 1999. Although the assailant had been found guilty at trial, the Supreme Court argued that because jeans are difficult to remove, the assailant could not have done so without the victim’s help.
Decades later, victims of sexual assault continue to be disbelieved and even blamed for their assault due to their behavior or “fashion” choices. On Denim Day, community members, schools and companies are encouraged to wear jeans in support of survivors and to bring awareness to the issue. Many agencies choose to have employees pay to wear jeans with the proceeds going toward sexual violence prevention efforts in the community.
Books with The Bridge – Recurring Monthly
We are also launching a monthly book club starting in April. Due to the nature of our agency, some readings will touch on issues surrounding domestic violence, sexual assault, and other trauma, but we will also be choosing books that focus on healing, growth, empowerment, and more. For SAAM, our first book will be Know My Name by Chanel Miller, a memoir about Miller’s experiences navigating recovery from sexual assault while at the center of a high-profile case against Brock Turner.
Readers can join our Books with The Bridge group on Facebook to participate in online discussions, engage with other readers, and respond to guided questions at their leisure throughout the month. This a great option for those with busy schedules who want to be involved, but cannot commit to regularly scheduled meetings. At the end of each month, there will be an opportunity for participants to meet via video chat to discuss the book further. If you are looking for a copy of the book, we may be able to help you locate one or provide one for you.
For more information about our SAAM events, or if you have questions about our book club, contact Angie or Kat at The Bridge to Hope by calling 715-235-9047. Keep checking our Facebook throughout the next few weeks for additional details!
We hope you will consider joining us in April to show your support for survivors.