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I believe you: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This+April+marks+the+23rd+year+that+the+month+will+be+recognized+as+the+Sexual+Assault+Awareness+Month.+Photo+courtesy+of+PICRYL.
This April marks the 23rd year that the month will be recognized as the Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Photo courtesy of PICRYL.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is recognized in April and is a month dedicated to national and community outreach for the education and prevention of sexual abuse, harassment and assault.  

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVCR) current SAAM campaign is “Building Connected Communities,” which draws from their belief that if anyone experiences sexual violence it impacts the community as a whole.  

The NSVCR website states: “We must strive to build more connected, respectful, and inclusive communities to promote our collective well-being and protect against the risk of sexual violence. We believe all of our communities will be safer and stronger by making them more equitable for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, races and ethnic backgrounds, ages, faiths, and abilities.” 

One local organization that offers services and advocates for those who are or have experienced sexual assault, abuse, harassment and family violence is the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV).  

Angel Carroll serves as the Associate Director of Sexual Assault Services where she oversees the rape crisis center in the El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson counties.  

Three aspects of the center’s services to survivors include providing non-residential services to clients such as case management, support groups and assistance through the criminal justice system which includes law enforcement accompaniment.  

The center also has 24/7 hospital accompaniments known as HART advocates. HART advocates respond to emergency rooms across El Paso when a survivor arrives for a forensic exam (SANE exam) after an assault.  

This year, CASFV dawned teal the color that represents SAAM for their day of action and chose the theme “I believe you” for the several community outreach events they are holding throughout April and to show their support for survivors and their stories.  

Carroll believes that the most impactful of all the events is the “What were you wearing?” exhibitions, which display clothes that fit the description of what survivors were wearing when they were assaulted.  

“These survivors have been brave enough to come forward and tell us their story and tell us what they were wearing,” Carroll said. “The purpose of that is to debunk those type of stigma’s that are out in the world, victim blaming, victim shaming and it’s a frequent question that is asked and it sends an even bigger message that the victim was acting for this crime to happen to them.” 

There are two upcoming “What were you wearing?” exhibitions, one on April 18 at Joe & Vinny Bronson from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and another at CASFV located at 580 Giles Rd.  

UTEP will also host the UTEP SAAM Advocacy Fair, “Take Back the Night” on April 24 at Centennial Plaza from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. where students will get the chance to learn more about CASFV and the importance of spreading awareness about sexual assault.  

Denim Day is April 24 where people are encouraged to wear denim to show support to survivors. Denim Day was sparked by a sexual assault case in Italy in 1992.  

Carroll spoke about the number of cases the center saw from 2022 to 2023. CASFV provided 341 hospital accompaniment requests, Carroll notes that these numbers only apply to the hospital where for a forensic exam the assault occurred within five days so many may have not reported within that time. The resource center says they saw a larger amount, with 616 clients reporting a sexual assault.  

“For some it is not talked about, it is not normal to talk about the things that have happened, so we do see a lot of those saying well I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know CASFV existed which is also another component of us, letting know the community that we are here and to please spread the word,” Carroll said. 

According to Carroll, some preventative measures that one can take to try and stay safe are to always be aware of one’s surroundings, and aware of the people one is surrounding themselves with. She also says educating themselves on what unhealthy power and control looks like in relationships as many of the cases the center receives involve dating or domestic violence.  

The center offers a 24-hour crisis hope line which can be reached at (915) 593-7300 or 1.800.727.0511. Their website, casfv.org, offers more information about the center and its resources as well as another crisis hope line to send messages to their advocates.  

Ximena Cordero is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ximena Cordero
Ximena Cordero, Staff Reporter
Ximena Cordero is a freshman at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is a staff reporter at The Prospector. She is majoring in communications and deciding between a minor in creative writing or English literature. After graduating, she would like to pursue a master's degree, work as a journalist or communication specialist, and maybe even write her own books. She wants a career that will allow her to explore the world and see new perspectives and cultures.
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