Public Awareness

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). SAAM is dedicated to making a concerted effort to raise awareness about and prevent sexual violence through special events (although such activities may occur at any time). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence (focusing on sexual assault and rape) and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Since the first national observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2001, NDCAWS/CASAND has provided resources to help individuals and organizations plan SAAM activities in their communities during April and throughout the year.

Additionally, NDCAWS/CASAND supports and encourages domestic violence and sexual assault programs in the development of strategies, initiatives, and customized materials to support local SAAM projects. As always, we encourage you to contact your community's domestic violence/sexual assault program for information, activities, and event coordination. Click Here for member program contact information.

Here on the NDCAWS/CASAND website, you will find information and materials for upcoming SAAM campaigns. While the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) creates the campaign themes for SAAM, we encourage state and local organizations and groups focused on sexual violence awareness and prevention to tailor these themes to their local communities.

By working together and pooling our resources during the month of April, we can highlight sexual violence as a major public health issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts.


Women's organized protests against violence began in the late 1970s in England with Take Back the Night marches. These women-only protests emerged in direct response to the violence that women encountered as they walked the streets at night. These activities became more coordinated and soon developed into a movement that extended to the United States and, in 1978, the first Take Back the Night events in the U.S. were held in San Francisco and New York City. Over time, sexual assault awareness activities expanded to include the issue of sexual violence against men and men's participation in ending sexual violence.

By the early 1980s, there was increased interest in coordinating activities to raise awareness of violence against women. As a result, time was set aside during October to raise awareness of violence against women issues. Over time, October became the principle focus of domestic violence awareness activities. Sexual assault advocates looked for a separate time to focus attention on sexual assault issues.

In the late 1980s, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) informally polled state sexual assault coalitions to determine when to have a national Sexual Assault Awareness Week. A week in April was selected. Over time, some advocates began focusing attention on sexual violence throughout the month of April. In the late 1990s, many advocates began coordinating activities throughout the month of April on a regular basis, promoting an idea for a nationally recognized month for sexual violence awareness activities.

From 2000-2001, the Resource Sharing Project (RSP) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) polled state, territory, and tribal coalitions and found that the color teal was the preferred color for sexual assault awareness and prevention and that April was the preferred month to coordinate national sexual assault awareness activities. As a result, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) was first observed nationally in April 2001.

NDCAWS/CASAND has continued to promote statewide unity in voice and action regarding SAAM activities, to encourage interaction and feedback from across the state, to build momentum based on previous years' activities and to disseminate materials and campaigns to member programs. NDCAWS/CASAND has provided resources to advocates statewide to help them plan SAAM activities in their communities during April and throughout the year. These resources have included publications (e.g., brochures, booklets, and manuals); prevention materials (e.g., palm cards and online resources); and awareness-raising products (e.g., pins, posters, napkins, and coffee cup sleeves).

Where can you obtain your SAAM Resources?

The NDCAWS/CASAND website provides a variety of resources related to each year's theme, planning SAAM events, and sexual violence awareness and prevention in general. You may also contact your community's domestic violence/sexual assault program.

Does NDCAWS/CASAND have a calendar of events?

Yes, NDCAWS/CASAND maintains an Events Calendar on the website. Events posted on the calendar include those sponsored by local, state, tribal, and college sexual assault programs and conferences, meetings, and workshops.