President Obama proclaims April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

President Obama has issued a proclamation that designates April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, spotlighting his support for survivors of sexual violence. Throughout his announcement, the President touched on the effects that rape and sexual assault have on communities involving LGBT people, military service members, Native American and immigrant populations.

President Obama proclaimed:

Where victims were once left without recourse, laws have opened a path to safety and justice; where a culture of fear once kept violence hidden, survivors are more empowered to speak out and get help. This month, we recommit to changing that tragic reality by stopping sexual assault before it starts and ensuring victims get the support they need.

On March 7, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill into law.

Earlier this month, I was proud to sign the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which renews and strengthens the law that first made it possible for our country to address sexual assault in a comprehensive way. The Act preserves critical services like rape crisis centers, upholds protections for immigrant victims, gives State and tribal law enforcement better tools to investigate cases of rape, and breaks down barriers that keep lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims from getting help. It also expands funding for sexual assault nurse examiner programs and sexual assault response teams, helping States deliver justice for survivors and hold offenders accountable.

With LGBT people experiencing domestic violence in 25-35% of relationships, the addition of the LGBT community was an essential part of the measure to protect survivors of intimate partner violence. Additionally, studies have shown that only one in five survivors of same-gender sexual assault and intimate partner violence received victim services, further revealing the need for LGBT inclusion in anti-violence legislation.

The Task Force would like to thank President Obama for actively including LGBT people in the reauthorization of this important law and for issuing this month’s proclamation. These inclusive programs and policies are vital to our community’s well-being. We look forward to working with this administration in the future to ensure that all survivors of violence are heard, supported and protected.