I am excited to share that with a very full April calendar Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2015 (SAAM) was a great success. I attended many events, delivered several speeches and as the month progressed the availability on my calendar decreased. Interviews were conducted, articles and podcasts were posted, press releases were sent out and local TV news reported on my work as a speaker and advocate. It can best be described as a flurry of activity for 30 continuous days and at the end I was left with a overwhelming feeling of hope for the future of date rape and sexual assault awareness and prevention.
The month began by my meeting up with a date rape survivor just like me except in addition to counseling she found healing through yoga. Justine then used her writing talents to create a screenplay and develop a movie project called 2000vinyasas, a story similar to her own. You can learn more in my post 2000 Vinyasas - The Movie.
The next day I was interviewed by an impressive young woman Jessica from GirlsSpeak. She was writing a series of articles for SAAM to be posted on her website blog. As a result of the interview I was quoted in two articles posted within as many weeks the 1st about Sexual Assault Myths the 2nd about Helping Survivors.
The following week my podcast interview, recorded in March, with the awesome ladies of the Vagina Chronicles was posted. We were connected initially from my work as project adviser on the Tell The World music video being developed by Rob Hustle hip hop artist and activist. This project, currently in production, allows sexual assault survivors to speak out. Angela & Nicolle contacted Rob to say they would like to promote the project by interviewing any of the project advisers available. They generously allowed me to take up most of the podcast telling my story and then provide information for Tell The World. You can listen via this link Vagina Chronicles.
In the 3rd week of April I had the pleasure to attend an Evening of Innovation at USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. Through my work as a RAINN Speaker's Bureau member I completed an interview questionnaire for Prevail Games developing Bridge to Solas a mobile role-play designed to help survivors on their path to healing. Alexx Murphy and her intelligent, talented team of women went up against 5 other student teams in the 2015 CRUNCH Student Design Challenge + Incubator for a $10,000 prize for startup funding. Although the ladies did not win the ultimate prize they took home the People's Choice Award. A huge accomplishment in its own right.
Week 4 & 5 of SAAM brought about my scheduled speaking engagements. As a result of my E! True Hollywood Story interview in February I was contacted by a former Philadelphia DA intern who worked on my case 10 years ago asking if I would speak at their annual National Crime Victims Rights Week ceremony. It was a beautiful event honoring families of murder victims, reported on by the Merced CA newspaper and ABC30 Fresno in which both highlighted my speech and message to sexual assault victims.
Norco College invited me to speak at their very first Take Back the Night. I was impressed by how well organized it was and the number of students that came out to participate. I presented my entire story of being sexually assaulted by a serial date rapist, the legal and court process, counseling, healing and finally moving forward with my life. There were beautiful student singers, poems read and a quilt with squares made by attendees including myself.
Finally, even though it was the 2nd Annual Denim Day Rally & Press Event it was my first time attending. Peace Over Violence, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence of any kind in LA since 1971, joined forces with Guess? Foundation to promote Denim Day LA & USA and beyond. There were guest speakers such as the Mayor, Police Chief and District Attorney of Los Angeles along with performances by Aloe Blacc and Maya Jupiter. I befriended a young masters degree student in social work and intern at POV. It was motivating and a lot of fun and you can read more about the message and how to get involved here Denim Day 2015.
SAAM was first observed in April 2001 growing out of Sexual Assault Awareness Week from the 1980's. In 2009 President Barack Obama was the first president to proclaim April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and it's been growing stronger ever since then. I was significantly more involved than last year and I hope next year will be that way for many other advocates and activists alike.