Sticks. Broken Glass. Broom. Sounds like the clean up after a violent, windy storm. But I’m not talking about a work of Mother Nature, but rather another kind of storm; a quiet storm, no not the one with the smooth grooves and the host with the sultry voice. This quiet storm silences voices and is far from soothing. This storm has claimed roughly 1.16 billion victims  all over the world, yet has no predictive instruments, radar to follow and track its movement, and no alarms blare warning us to seek shelter. There is no recovery after this kind of storm; no picking up the pieces and rebuilding from the ground up. There are no applications to fill out for aid and our Platinum selling recording artists have yet to band together to raise money on primetime TV. If you can find a national walk to benefit its survivors, I would be more surprised than “Danielson” when he got that yellow convertible. With so many people falling prey to this, why isn’t something be done about it? Something is being done, and here is your invitation to join.
In the United States, April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Various charities and organizations host a myriad of events throughout the month to shed light on the powerful quiet storm that affects literally billions of women and girls throughout our seven continents. Sexual Assault loosely defined is any act in which one is threatened, physically forced or coerced to perform/or receive a sexual act without the consent of said individual. This includes but is not limited to forcible touching, child sexual abuse, forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration (rape), or torture such as Female Genital Mutilation ( the practice of partially or completely removing the female genitalia). Branches, broken glass and broomsticks are not just in the aftermath of a hurricane, in some war torn countries, these are the weapons of choice to sexually abuse women. It is estimated that one in three women will experience some form of violence in her life time. Think about your two best friends, your mom and your sister, your co-workers at the office or the two moms you had over for play dates. With those odds, one of those three may be a silent survivor. She may even be you.
The 2013 SAAM campaign is focusing on the most vulnerable victims, our children. In 2005 it was estimated that one in 12 children are sexually abused each year (Finkelhor, Ormrod, Turner, & Hamby, 2005) . You can expect government and counseling agencies to host awareness rallies to drum up support for local charities. Armed with candles and their lungs, “Take Back the Night” marchers course through city streets and college campuses to let it be known that they will no longer be afraid to walk alone at night. You may even find a “Rock against Rape” concert event at your local bar. What can you do? Wear teal to show your support, check out www.nsvrc.org/saam for more information and check WMSDF throughout the month of April for information of upcoming events in the Tri-state area and information on different forms of Sexual Assault. Let’s be the prevention, radar and air raid alarms in our own communities and stop this storm in its tracks.