National Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2024

By Ashley Barnes, M.S.

National Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2024

April 2024 marks National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s 23rd annual National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a campaign dedicated to preventing sexual assault. Though each year focuses on a different theme pertaining to preventing sexual assault, NSVRC always centers visibility about sexual assault and how it can be prevented – whether that’s through education about healthy sexuality, consent, or bystander intervention. 

NSVRC coordinates a national SAAM campaign complete with the resources and tools needed to hold an event or otherwise raise awareness. This makes it more accessible for communities, workplaces, and college campuses to develop their own programs related to preventing sexual assault. 

Sexual Assault and Trauma

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) describes sexual violence/assault as “sexual activity when consent is not obtained or freely given. It is a serious public health problem in the United States that profoundly impacts lifelong health, opportunity, and well-being. Sexual violence impacts every community and affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, and ages. Anyone can experience or perpetrate sexual violence. The perpetrator of sexual violence is usually someone the survivor knows, such as a friend, current or former intimate partner, coworker, neighbor, or family member. Sexual violence can occur in person, online, or through technology, such as posting or sharing sexual pictures of someone without their consent, or non-consensual sexting” (CDC, 2022).

According to the CDC, more than half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes; 1 in 3 women and about 1 in 9 men experienced sexual harassment in a public place (2022).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR) describes a traumatic event as requiring actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence (APA, 2022). Trauma is a response to a deeply distressing or disturbing traumatic event; it often manifests through changes in psychological and physiological responses. Though not everyone who experiences sexual assault develops trauma symptoms, sexual assault is a traumatic event. 

How to Prevent Sexual Assault

The following are ways that we can prevent sexual assault:

  • Teach Skills to Prevent Sexual Violence – teaching healthy, safe dating and intimate relationship skills to teens, promoting healthy sexuality.
  • Promote Social Norms that Protect Against Violence – bystander approaches, mobilizing men and boys as allies.
  • Create Protective Environments – improving safety and monitoring schools, addressing community-level risks through environmental approaches, establishing and consistently applying workplace policies.
  • Support Survivors to Lessen Harm – survivor-centered services, treatment for survivors of sexual violence, treatment for at-risk families to prevent problem behavior including sex offending (CDC, 2022).

Seek Support

After a traumatic event, self care, leaning on a strong support system, and seeking professional help are all strongly recommended. It is advised that anyone who experiences a traumatic event seek mental health help to better cope with the potential psychological aftermath of such events. If adverse psychological and physiological symptoms persist for months, this indicates that professional mental health help may be necessary to aid healthy psychological functioning. 

Trauma-informed clinicians will approach care in a sensitive and educated manner such that a patient is not re-traumatized during the treatment process. Clinicians such as therapists and psychiatrists may utilize eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) or trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy (T-CBT) as part of the treatment process for those experiencing enduring trauma.

We have several knowledgeable and compassionate physicians affiliated with the Mental Health Center who are experts in treating trauma and trauma-related disorders.

Please contact our office at (310) 601-9999 or visit our Mental Health Center website to schedule an appointment today!



American Psychiatric Association. (2022). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.TR). Washington, DC: Publisher. Text citation: (American Psychiatric Association, 2022).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Fast facts: Preventing sexual violence |violence prevention|injury Center|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.