State Senator Wants Florida to Recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This week, state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, wants Florida to recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

Berman announced this week that she will offer a resolution in next year’s legislative session to mark April as SAAM. The resolution would mark first Wednesday in April as “Start By Believing Day.”

“It is a time to draw attention to the prevalence of sexual assault and educate individuals and communities how to prevent it. Sexual harassment, abuse, and assault are widespread problems: one in six women and one in thirty-three men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, and more than two out of three sexual assaults are never reported to police,” Berman’s office noted.

“While this may be a tough topic to speak about, it is one that needs to be addressed loudly and clearly,” said Berman on Monday. “Sexual violence affects every corner of our community, including people of every race, gender identity and age, even children. I want every survivor to know I believe you, and my office is here to support your healing and pursuit of justice.”

“SAAM is organized nationally by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). “Each of us has the power to make a difference,” said Laura Palumbo, the communications director at NSVRC. “We are proud to join state and local leaders who are proclaiming that we can work together to support survivors of sexual assault and create safer communities.”

Kat Duesterhaus, a sexual assault survivor and the chairwoman of the Freedom From Violence Task Force for the Florida National Organization for Women (NOW), made Berman aware of the issue.

“I was surprised to learn the state of Florida had not officially proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” said Duesterhaus. “I believe Senator Berman’s proclamation will encourage important conversations around consent and empower more survivors to come forward.”

“We recognize that one month alone won’t eliminate the serious and widespread issue of sexual violence. However, the attention Sexual Assault Awareness Month brings is a chance to expand prevention efforts year round,” said Florida NOW President Debbie Deland.

“This year’s proclamation is only the beginning,” Berman said. “I am committed to doing whatever it takes to change the statistics of sexual violence in the great state of Florida.

Berman also issued the following proclamation this week:

A Proclamation to recognize April 2022 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the State of Florida.

WHEREAS, Sexual Assault Awareness Month calls attention to the fact that sexual trauma and abuse is widespread and impacts every person in this community, and

WHEREAS, rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment harm our community, and statistics show one in six women and one in thirty-three men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, and

WHEREAS, more than two out of three sexual assaults are never reported to police, and

WHEREAS, young people experience heightened rates of sexual violence–one in nine girls and one in fifty-three boys under the age of eighteen experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult, and

WHEREAS, females ages sixteen through nineteen are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault, and

WHEREAS, on college campuses, thirteen percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, and

WHEREAS, every year, the first Wednesday in April is recognized as “Start by Believing Day” which provides an opportunity for communities around the world to gather to end the silence and change the way we respond to sexual assault, NOW, THEREFORE,

I, Senator Lori Berman, of Florida Senate District 31, do hereby recognize April 2022 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the State of Florida.

Kevin Derby
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