UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

The history of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Jordan Ramos, Reporter

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) was created 20 years ago in 2001, but its history goes further back. The legacy of SAAM was led by Black women and women of color dating all the way back to the 1860s.

After the Civil War in 1866, there was a shootout between White Memphis police officers and Black union soldiers. After this, with the help of the police force, White residents went through Black neighborhoods and assaulted, murdered, and raped Black civilians and soldiers. This became known as the Memphis Massacre. Five Black women, who survived the massacre, testified in a congressional investigation. These sexual violence testimonies were the first to be a part of a US court trial. 

Ida B. Wells was a huge figure in the Sexual Assault Awareness movement. She spent her life fighting against gender-based violence as well as sexism and racism. She led anti-rape movements throughout the South. Wells mostly focused on getting rid of the stereotypes that plagued Black women and men. Those stereotypes were the hyper-sexualization of Black women and the idea that all Black men are perpetrators of sexual assault.

In 1971, the first rape crisis center was built in San Francisco called the “Bay Area Women Against Rape.” 400 centers were created around the US within the next five years. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape was the first state coalition to form in 1975. Many other national organizations were formed and along with them came marches and events such as the Women’s Equal Rights Parades. 

In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed by President Bill Clinton. This act provided funding for the investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes against women. It also asked for restitution on those convicted and allowed for civil redress. This was the first time in US history that gender-based violence was not a personal issue but a legal issue. 

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) was created in 2000. A year later, April was recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Eight years later, President Barack Obama officially declared April as SAAM. Obama is the first and only president to recognize the month. 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

Navigate Left
  • The gallery of Kara Walkers art at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).


    Artist Kara Walker explores race, gender and violence in work displayed at the MOCA

  • Photo by tabitha turner on Unsplash.


    Local bakeries that will bake you smile

  • UNF Interim President Pamella Pam Chally poses for a photograph


    UNF’s Interim President ends her role, Dr. Limayem’s term begins

  • A person looks stressed with a computer and books on their desk


    How to avoid college burnout in the upcoming fall semester

  • Demonstrators gather on the lawn of the Duval County Courthouse


    Through the eyes of a photographer: June

  • A crowd of people listen to a speaker


    ‘We need to take action’: Protesters respond to SCOTUS decision at Jacksonville rally

  • Someone taking notes during a meeting


    Internships bridge the gap between college and the real world, professor explains

  • (Lauren Fox/Spinnaker)


    Pride and pandering: Are companies supporting equality or good PR?

  • black and white tiles spell out AMAZING DAD on a table


    Creative Father’s Day gifts you can actually afford

  • A Wear Orange banner reads we can end gun violence on a fence at Success Park during a clean-up event


    Locals look to brighter future with ‘Wear Orange’ park clean-up

Navigate Right

Comments (0)

Spinnaker intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, slurs, defamation, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and will be removed if they do not adhere to these standards. Spinnaker does not allow anonymous comments, and Spinnaker requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All UNF Spinnaker Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest