Why I Care About Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Kyra Charles

Trigger Warning: Mentions of sexual assault and rape.

Rape culture scares me senseless. It’s why I don’t go to parties or drink when I do go to them. It’s why I don’t allow my dates to drive me anywhere. It’s why my grandmother bought me a rape whistle for Christmas, and my mother bought me a taser for my birthday. It’s why when I walk around campus at night, a campus that doesn’t allow pepper spray, I hold my key in my fist, ready to jab it in somebody’s eye. It’s why when I met a group of Ukrainian men while abroad, who harassed me and didn’t listen to my definitive NO, I felt extremely angry.

And I’m still angry. Despite everything #MeToo has done, there’s still an unfulfilled need for accountability from the abusers and justice for the abused. Politicians accused of assault and rape are still in public office. Celebrities like James Franco, who claim to support the victims, have committed assault themselves. Within my own circle, somebody I know who works at competitive dance competitions was shamed by an elderly couple for letting a child wear a costume that showed her stomach. “This is why Me Too happened!” they declared, as if what a child chooses to wear defines the actions of somebody who would try to assault her. It doesn’t.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is relevant, and will remain relevant for every assault victim who feels powerless. Its existence defines the take back of our bodies and our lives. By talking about it we share what consent looks like, why abuse is not okay, and how important it is to believe survivors. So much remains to be done, and we cannot forget that. Decades of hard work and bravery have brought us to a point where we can talk about these issues, and there’s no excuse to back down from it now.

The Women’s Center will be hosting Meet Us On The Street through social media this week. Share our posts and create your own with the hashtag #StopStreetHarassment

We will also be hosting Denim Day online on April 29. Post pictures wearing denim with the hashtag #UMKCDenimDay20 and check our social media to see how you can support the Denim Day movement.

For more information on SAAM, go to: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam