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Rape Recovery Center celebrates adapted Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Rape Recovery Center celebrates adapted Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Employees at the Rape Recovery Center, located just down the street from Westminster College at 2035 1300 E, Salt Lake City, have spent a year planning their Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities. 

However, the week after the event schedule was released, Salt Lake County’s stay-at-home order made most of their activities impossible, said Stephany Murguia, director of education and outreach.

The beginning of the movement

This April is the 19th annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The goal of SAAM is education about sexual assault and prevention of sexual assault, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. 

The first rape crisis center was founded in San Francisco in 1971, according to the NSVRC website. Just three years later, Utah’s Rape Recovery Center was founded, Murguia said. 

“The Rape Recovery Center has been around for 46 years,” she said. “It started as a grassroots organization of volunteers and it’s currently a nonprofit with about 40 staff members.” 

Resources in Spanish

The main goal of the Rape Recovery Center in the last few years has been to increase the number of resources available to Spanish-speakers, according to Murguia. 

“What we know is that although sexual violence impacts all communities, those that are traditionally underserved in the United States have increased barriers to accessing services and they’re also more vulnerable to being victims of violence,” Murguia said.  

The Rape Recovery Center currently has a 24-hour crisis line staffed with volunteers who primarily speak Spanish and another group of volunteers who primarily speak English, according to Murguia. Additionally, all updates to the website and posts on social media are available in both languages to better serve the local community. 

SAAM 2020: Our Voices

Black women and women of color were the leaders of the fight for sexual assault resources decades ago, according to the National Sexual Violence Resouce Center. Black women and girls are also at the center of the #MeToo movement, Murguia said. 

“When we look at who is accessing these resources, Black women and Black girls, and really all people of marginalized communities, are still not represented,” she said. “So ‘Our Voices’ was a way to recenter the voices of those who are missing from the movement, to hand over the mic to those people.”

With the theme “Our Voices,” there are a variety of events that the Rape Recovery Center staff has been able to transfer to a virtual platform. 

Having these events is especially important because the stay-at-home order may force some people to spend more time with their abusers, Murguia said. 

“Domestic violence calls are going up,” she said.  

Fortunately, the Rape Recovery Center was able to transition to a virtual platform to celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness Month this year. 

“This week is the first week of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM),” said the incoming and interim executive directors in a letter on the website. “While this SAAM may look vastly different from years past, we are honored to continue to provide virtual resources about the impact and prevention of sexual violence.”

Mara Haight, the interim executive director, and Sonya Martinez-Ortiz, the incoming executive director, published a letter on the Rape Recovery Center website to inform the community about the available resources during the pandemic as well as the plans for SAAM. 

“Our theme this year is Our Voices,” according to the same letter. “Our Voices centers empowering everyone to take part in addressing sexual violence in their communities while encouraging collective healing.”

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Gwenna Salazar
Gwenna Salazar is a junior honors student studying communication. She loves to try new things, which has led her to discovering passions in writing, yoga, climbing and consuming media. She hopes to forge a fulfilling career in public relations and media analysis, leaving time on the side for adventures.

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