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Sexual Assault Awareness Month


To honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month and draw attention to sexual assault in later life, NCALL supports Start by Believing, a public awareness campaign designed by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) to change the way we respond to rape and sexual assault in our communities. Because a friend or family member is typically the first person a victim confides in after an assault, each individual’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing. Knowing how to respond is critical—a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face zero consequences for their crimes. Resist ageist assumptions that older adults are not victims of sexual crimes. Start by Believing.

Start by Believing - No Ageism

In support of the Start by Believing campaign, NCALL has created web graphics and posters for others to use. Posters are available as PDFs and feature an editable field for programs to add local information and resources. Web graphics may be used on websites, in blogs and in social media. 

Presidential Proclamation: National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, 2016

2016 Sexual Abuse in Later Life Blog

2016 Events

April 5, 2016: SAAM Day of Action
This nationally recognized day provides an opportunity for preventionists and advocates to engage with their communities and kick off SAAM events that are planned throughout April. Plan or support a SAAM event in your community on April 5, and keep the conversation going all month long on social networking.

April 6, 2016: Start by Believing Day
2016 marks the the first-ever, global Start by Believing Day.  Please join End Violence Against Women International in creating an international message of support for sexual assault survivors. 

April 27, 2016: Honor Denim Day
Denim Day is an international protest responding to the Italian Supreme Court’s overruling of a rape conviction in 1999. An Italian woman was raped, and when the case went to trial, the jury found the assailant guilty. The Supreme Court later overturned the ruling, saying that jeans are too difficult to remove and the assailant could not have done so without the victim’s help. To honor Denim Day, people are encouraged to wear jeans to work or school and start discussions about the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Learn more at: http://denimdayinfo.org/



By the early 1980s, there was increased interest in coordinating activities to raise awareness of violence against women. As a result, time was set aside during October to raise awareness of violence against women issues. Over time, October became the principle focus of domestic violence awareness activities. Sexual aassault advocates looked for a separate time to focus attention on sexual assault issues. In the late 1980s, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) informally polled state sexual assault coalitions to determine when to have a national Sexual Assault Awareness Week. A week in April was selected. Over time, some advocates began focusing attention on sexual violence throughout the month of April. In the late 1990s, many advocates began coordinating activities throughout the month of April on a regular basis, promoting an idea for a nationally recognized month for sexual violence awareness activities.

From 2000-2001, the Resource Sharing Project (RSP) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) polled state, territory, and tribal coalitions and found that the color teal was the preferred color for sexual assault awareness and prevention and that April was the preferred month to coordinate national sexual assault awareness activities. As a result, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) was first observed nationally in April 2001.

Since then, the NSVRC has continued to promote a degree of national unity in voice and action regarding SAAM activities, to encourage interaction and feedback from across the nation, and to build momentum based on previous years’ activities. The NSVRC has provided resources to advocates nationwide to help them plan SAAM activities in their communities during April and throughout the year. These resources have included publications (e.g., newsletters, booklets, and directories); prevention materials (e.g., palm cards and online resources); and awareness-raising products (e.g., pins, posters, stickers, and postcards).

NCALL invites you to explore the following resources for information about sexual violence in later life. 


  • Special Collection: Preventing and Responding to Domestic & Sexual Violence in Later Life (Updated May 2014) by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) in partnership with the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) - This Special Collection brings together selected materials related to preventing and responding to elder abuse, specifically domestic and sexual violence. In doing so, it draws from the work of the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) and other organizations. By focusing specifically on domestic and sexual violence in later life, this special collection highlights the complexities of older survivors’ experiences and emphasizes collaborative and multi-pronged approaches to addressing gender based violence in later life. Accordingly, the materials included in this special collection have been organized by their relevance to key stakeholders.
  • Sexual Violence in Later Life: A Technical Assistance Guide for Advocates (2010) - Sexual violence in later life is a form of elder abuse. This guide thoroughly investigates the complexity of the topic and includes information on signs and symptoms, special issues facing older victims, and primary prevention techniques. Developed by Holly Ramsey-Klawsnik, Phd, in conjunction with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. 
  • Sexual Violence in Later Life Information Packet (2010) -  Sexual violence can affect individuals across the lifespan, including people in later life. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) has created a series of resources related to sexual violence in later life. The Sexual Violence in Later Life Information Packet was developed by Holly Ramsey-Klawsnik, PhD, in conjunction with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.