April is recognized nationally as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
A recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that 1.3 million women had been raped in the year preceding the survey and nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetime. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Public Health has indicated that sexual harm in society has become normalized through daily messages, advertisements and cultural images that condone sexual harassment and abuse.
To respond to this reality and to raise awareness, there are numerous local events taking place throughout April.
On Sunday, April 15, the Coon Rapids High School FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) will host its sixth annual walk-a-thon at the CRHS outdoor track to stop domestic and sexual violence.
Check-in opens at 11 a.m. and the walk begins at noon. There will be a speaker, displays, music and door prizes. Children, adults and pets are all welcome. Proceeds will benefit Alexandra House, an Anoka County-based domestic and sexual violence victim advocacy agency.
On Saturday, April 21, the Anoka County Sexual Assault Action Team will host its fourth annual Zumbathon® at Westwood Middle School in Blaine. Registration opens at 12:30 p.m. and the Zumba class is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. There will be resource tables, a silent auction and local vendors. Proceeds will benefit the sexual assault action team. There is a minimum donation of $10 per person.
On Saturday, April 28, at the Rum River Library in Anoka, local author and sexual assault survivor Patricia Francisco Weaver will be reading from her memoir, “Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery.” The reading is from 2 to 3:30 p.m. This is a free event.
“Our goal all year, but particularly in April, is to bring the issue of sexual violence into the light of day,” said Amy Highness, Alexandra House community education coordinator.
“Many victims suffer in silence, out of fear that no one will believe them or that nothing can be done. These events will show survivors that they are not alone, that healing is possible, and that our community is dedicated to ending this endemic problem.”
All events are open to the public. For more information, visit the SAAM page on the Alexandra House website (www.alexandrahouse.org/SAAM) or call 763-780-2332.