There are just under 50 nationally designated months during the calendar year. Many celebrate the accomplishments and historical impact of collective groups - Black history, Italian-American Heritage, Gay and Lesbian Pride. But about half of them are labeled "awareness" months and rather than celebrate, they serve to highlight critical social issues and health epidemics that require cures, legislative action, increased funding, and commitments from every day individuals like us, to change - mental health awareness, cancer awareness, or domestic violence awareness.
Today I am headed to my state Capitol to attend the official kick-off of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We will talk to legislators and thank them for their support of critical state legislation like House Bill 3 (which provides added protection and services for victims of human trafficking) and House Bill 9 (which offers added protection in dating violence). At noon we will gather in the Capitol rotunda where we will rally to raise awareness about this horrific atrocity that we allow to perpetuate in our state. When night falls, we will sit down to dinner as we recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on eradicating sexual violence in Kentucky.
While I recognize the importance of our presence at the epicenter of systems change for our state, I really wish I didn't have to be a part of today's activities. Not because I don't believe that it is incredibly critical, relevant and desperately needed. But because I'm jealous. Of Asian Pacific Month and Carribean American Month. I wish that today, we didn't have to designate an entire month just to get the state's attention. That we didn't have to shout to the world that in Kentucky, a rape is committed every 5 hours. That's 812,000 female victims of sexual violence. And 313,000 male victims. I wish that today I was celebrating the fact that as a nation, as a state, as individuals, we took a stand one day - through legislation, through funding of services, through individual action to intervene before a sexual assault takes place. And that our actions worked. And we successfully eradicated sexual violence and lived in a utopia where power-based personal violence did not exist. Where streets and dorm rooms and work places and campsites and children's bedrooms were safe. I wish our children and grandchildren could one day look at their calendars and say, "How silly to dedicate an entire month to celebrate rape history!" Because they had no concept what that world was like. Because in their world, rape and sexual violence no longer existed.
Note: While the nation designates April as Sexual Assault Awareness month, Kentucky designates the month of March, so that it doesn't take away from the significance of yet another month we'd like to make history - Child Abuse Awareness Month. For more information on National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please visit http://www.nsvrc.org/saam/.