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Sexual Assault Awareness Month


How did Sexual Assault Awareness Month get started?

One night. One protest.

One group of women gathered on a London, England street in 1975 to take a stand — the first official “Take Back the Night” — against the sexual violence they often encountered when the sun set.

The annual “Take Back the Night” marches quickly gathered international support, spreading to the United States. In 1978, the first Take Back the Night events in the U.S. were held in San Francisco and New York City. Over time, sexual assault awareness activities expanded to include the issue of sexual violence against men and men’s participation in ending sexual violence.

In the early 1980s, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) encouraged each state to organize sexual violence awareness activities during the Sexual Assault Awareness Week. By the 1990s the week turned into a month-April. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center celebrated the first nationally observed sexual violence awareness month in April 2001.

Since that time, the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign has targeted a number of issues surrounding sexual violence such as sexual assault on campus, healthy sexuality, sexual harassment at work, preventing violence in schools and speaking out about rape in order to raise awareness and educate individuals on how to prevent sexual violence in our communities.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape continue to encourage individuals, organizations, companies, schools, elected officials and every member of our communities to make SAAM a part of their activities in April each year.

April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States.

The national theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2024 is “Building Connected Communities.” By building connected communities we can reduce the likelihood of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment. Any space where people come together is a community, whether in neighborhoods, workplaces, campuses, organizations, or even online spaces. Learn more and find national SAAM resources at

SAAM Resources for Pennsylvania

Every year, the Pennsylvania Coalition to Advance Respect (PCAR) also shares a statewide theme that complements the national theme. This year’s statewide theme is, “United to Prevent Sexual Violence.” Throughout the month, we’ll unite to learn, share, and take action to prevent sexual violence. We can all take steps to make others feel safe and help if they are sexually abused or harassed. We can share information about options and where to find a local rape crisis center. Our goal is to create communities where being a good neighbor is the norm, setting boundaries is celebrated, and holding people who cause sexual harm responsible is the standard. We invite everyone to unite with us to prevent sexual abuse, assault, and harassment now and throughout the year.

Click here to download Pennsylvania SAAM resources