Sexual Assult Awareness Month

Sexual Assult Awareness Month

Julia Maina, Reporter

The month of April is known for Sexual Assult Awareness Month (SAAM). During this time, crisis centers, assault-survivors and many more take this spring to advocate to ending sexual assault and bettering the injustice systems. 

Even before the offical decleration of SAAM, sexual assault and harassment occured on a daily basis whether people realized it or not. The term sexual assault is defined as any nonconsensual sexual act by Federal, Tribal, or State Law; it includes when the victim lacks any capacity of consent. In addition, the term consent is defined as permission or agreement.

In Indiana specifically, there is no clear written law that defines consent. In House Bill 1160 from the Indiana General Assembly, “Consent. Defines ‘consent’ for an offense involving a sex crime. Provides that a person commits rape if the person engages in sexual activity with another person and the other person: (1) has not given consent; or (2) submits to the sexual activity under the belief that the person committing the act is someone the victim knows, other than the person committing the act, and such belief is intentionally induced by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the person.” Notice that there is no specific point in the bill that defines what consent is, meaning statements like “no means no” and “my body my choice” in occasions of sexual activity are not truly justified. 

In another House Bill, Bill 1079, it states “Elements of rape. Provides that a person commits rape if the person engages in sexual activity with another person and the person disregards the other person’s attempts to refuse the person’s acts.” Notice that in this bill, the word consent is not used, instead ‘attempts to refuse’. In Indiana, a person commits a sex crime if: (1) the victim is compelled by force or imminent threat of force; (2) the victim is unaware that the sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct is occurring; or (3) the victim is so mentally disabled or deficient that consent to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct cannot be given. In situations where force or threat of force does not exist, the law becomes ambiguous and difficult to precisely interpret.

There are so many ways one can help sexual assault prevention and awareness. It is best to learn about the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse and ways to help those who have experienced or are currently experiencing it. Organizations such as RAINN and NSVRC are very informative resources. Donating, whether it be money to a non-profit organization, or time volunteering in places like a women’s shelter can also be helpful. Lastly, being an advocate on various social media streams is a great option to make one’s voice heard.

If you or anyone you know is experiening sexual assult or has experienced sexual assult in the past, call the national sexual assult hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or the National Center for Victims at 1-855-2846 for 24-hour service.