Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. The campaign theme for 2019 is I Ask – a theme that champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.

Sexual Assault and Mental Health

Sexual assault is not only a physical trauma, but a mental one that can have both short- and long-term effects on a victim’s mental health. According to RAINN (the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization), victims of sexual assault are at an increased risk for developing:

  • Depression
  • Substance use disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Many survivors experience flashbacks of their assault, and feelings of shame, isolation, shock, and guilt. People who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs.



When someone gives consent, they give their permission for something to happen, or they agree to do something. Consent means they know what they’re agreeing to. It’s not just about asking for consent, but also about listening and accepting the answer.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center offers resources on consent:

Asking for Consent

Asking for Digital Consent

Teaching Consent

How Power Impacts Consent


  • In the US, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner (SAAM)
  • 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim (RAINN)

If you have been the victim of sexual violence, resources are available.

History of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The “Take Back the Night” movement started in the 1970s, following a number of incidents of violence against women. In October 1975, a candlelit march was held in Philadelphia following the murder of Susan Alexander Speeth, a young University of Pennsylvania microbiologist who was walking home at night when she was killed a block from her West Philadelphia home.

In the 80s, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) encouraged individual states to organize sexual violence awareness activities during Sexual Assault Awareness Week. By the 90s, the week-long awareness event turned into month-long observance. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center recognized the first nationally-observed sexual violence awareness month in April 2001.