April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month but as a survivor, why does it make me so uncomfortable?

Hannah Tasker reflects on the importance of April.

Barack Obama officially stated April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month back in 2009 (which, side note, was 11 years ago, and I am quite frankly not ok with that). Now, admittedly I was only 10 and I don’t always keep up to date with everything Obama says, but I would have thought I would have seen or heard about this month before coming across it on Twitter this year.

It goes without saying, sexual assault absolutely needs to spoken about more and awareness absolutely needs to be raised. April is an essential month. We need awareness individually and societally, to teach and help others. We need awareness for this to get to government and to change the system of education on it. Perhaps most importantly, we need to keep an open and honest discourse going. Awareness is the first step towards real change and — let’s give ourselves a pat on the back here — our generation is pretty damn good at it.

‘The idea of celebrating a month dedicated to sexual assault just seemed a little off to me’

So, what makes me so uncomfortable about the whole thing?

I had this odd feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I started to think; we’ve got Black History month, LGBTQ+ History month, Refugee Awareness Weeks, amongst others.

I asked myself, should months and weeks be the only time we’re dedicating to acknowledge and educate, discuss and debate these important times in history? Probably not. What’s worse, is that the word ‘celebrate’ is used all too often. We should recognise and praise the progress that has been made and promote education; promote change. But it is also ok if ‘celebrating’ this month freaks you out. It freaks me out a bit.

I guess what I’m trying to do here is address the uncomfortable feeling that came with hearing about the month. The idea of ‘celebrating’ a month dedicated to sexual assault just seemed a little off to me. I mean, are we super keen on the idea of getting the gang round, popping the bubbly and celebrating our traumas? Of course, I understand that this isn’t what the month is about. The month is about awareness and we very much need it.

This month is significant but if it overwhelms you a bit, don’t give yourself a hard time. Don’t force yourself to read things that will upset you. Do realise you’re not alone and you absolutely will get through this. Take it from me, I’m not saying it’s going to be a quick, easy process, but whatever happened to you and however you realise and deal with that you will get through it. Let’s remind our mates, our families, our colleagues that we’ve got their backs and help educate each other where we can. Use Sexual Assault Awareness Month as a catalyst for your own realisations and let it (when you’re ready) be a part of aiding in the longevity of more widespread change.

 

WORDS: Hannah Tasker

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