While this week may wrap up Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), it is certainly not an end to the important discussions. This year’s successful SAAM has jumpstarted initiatives and helped facilitate necessary conversations across traditional and social media.
We wanted to close out SAAM with an interview with Jayla Murdock, the Prevention Campaign Specialist on the communications team at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and the mind behind developing and implementing this year’s SAAM campaign.
RALIANCE: Can you explain your role in leading the efforts of SAAM? How long have you been part of making SAAM a successful effort?
Murdock: This is my first year leading SAAM! I began this role in February 2022, so I was learning, training, and assisting with what I could for the We Can Build Safe Online Spaces campaign. A takeaway from seeing my first SAAM campaign launch is how much people look forward to and share the information NSVRC provides through April and throughout the year.
RALIANCE: When it comes to planning SAAM every year, what’s the most anticipated part of SAAM and what’s the most challenging aspect?
Murdock: For me, the most anticipated part of leading my first SAAM was brainstorming the campaign theme. We ask folks in the field, advocates and survivors, to participate in a survey at the end of April 2022, along with many other questions, one question pertains to what they would like the campaign to focus on for the following year. I used the survey results as much as I could during our brainstorming and planning.
The most challenging aspect would be all of the moving parts that accompany planning and staying on course with a timeline. We know so many folks use our theme in conjunction with their own SAAM planning, so getting information out in a timely manner is important and can come with challenges.
RALIANCE: In which ways do you work with local organizations to help SAAM reach the grassroots level?
Murdock: We create resources that are written for a broader audience and different knowledge levels. Prevention educators at local organizations make the NSVRC materials their own by sharing additional information that is relevant to that state and/or local area.
On the communications team, we leverage topics throughout the year, such as back to school, monthly observances, critical race theory (CRT), and trending topics and news to make evergreen resources timely.
RALIANCE: What are some fun and interesting ways workplaces have participated in SAAM over the years?
Murdock: We have heard of so many creative ways people are bringing SAAM into the workplace:
-We heard from a workplace that they were planning to share the SAAM campaign theme and resources on a Facebook page for their employees.
-Workplaces have invited their staff to wear denim on Denim Day, a day to show support for survivors and eliminate victim-blaming.
-Some workplaces allow staff to exchange donations for dress-down days throughout the month and share information with their patients and customers about SAAM.
-Coffee shops have created specialty drinks during SAAM
-Hospitals and medical providers wear teal ribbons and lanyards, along with providing brochures and resources to the community for local sexual assault providers.
We have more resources for employers and employees on our website too.
RALIANCE: As this month’s campaign winds down, what advice do you have for those interested in carrying the momentum from SAAM 2023 all year long?
Murdock: Though April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we know that one month alone isn’t enough. it is important to discuss and educate about prevention and create awareness all year long.
This year’s theme is focusing on equity and it will take all of us to build a better world free of inequities and sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. So not only are we asking you to build equity this April, we are asking you to join us to make real, large-scale, and lasting change by building equity and respect within our communities, workplaces, and the future our youth hold.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.