Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is a time for us to reflect on how sexual assault affects our communities and take action to stop sexual assault. The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs estimates that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Within their lifetimes, in fact, more than one‐third of all women in Washington State will be sexually assaulted.
On April 4, the YWCA of Walla Walla kicked off the month with a work session joined by Jane Carmody, director of Resident Life at Whitman College, and resident assistants Annie Want, Madison Munn, Tara McCulloch (also the president of FACE), and Erin Coffey. Carmody called the work session an opportunity to learn about a great community resource here in Walla Walla and to help plan events for SAAM. “These events are really important because they shed light on an issue that not a lot of people feel comfortable talking about. It is very necessary to start talking about these issues because it affects all of us.”
“Having these powerful young women join us to work against sexual violence was an inspiration,” said Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, YWCA of Walla Walla Executive Director. “They gave us some great ideas for the month and provided perspective from the age group most often affected by sexual assault.”
Awareness Month events include:
All this month: Watch the YWCA Facebook page for event information, and share YWCA posts about the topic of sexual violence and consent.
- Thursday, April 9: Take Back the Night. The YWCA joins Whitman’s Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment (FACE) for this annual event protesting sexual violence. Whitman College senior Sayda Morales will share information from her senior thesis about assault in our community. The rally will begin at Cordiner Hall at 7 p.m. Come at 6:45 to make a sign to carry, and visit the YWCA information table to get your teal awareness ribbon.
- April 17-18: Coasters for Consent. In cooperation with local bars, the YWCA is sharing conversational coastersthe weekend of April 17. If you go out during this weekend, watch for drink coasters at participating bars. (We’ve invited Walla Walla’s 10 best bars according to Yelp.) Join the conversation about consent and why it’s important for healthy relationships.
- April 19: Spring Service Day. As part of the tri-college spring service day, the YWCA has organized a poster and chalk campaign. Students from Walla Walla University, Whitman College and Walla Walla Community College will spread the word about the impact of sexual assault on our community and where to get help.
- Thursday, April 29, 5:30-7 p.m.: Sexual Assault Vigil. To round out this month of Sexual Assault Awareness, a vigil will be held for sexual assault victims and survivors at the Land Title Plaza at the corner of First & Main in downtown Walla Walla.
“We all have important contributions to make in creating a world free of sexual violence,” said Schwerin. “The YWCA hopes that community members will turn out in force to lend their voices to the effort.”