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Sexual Assault Awareness Heads to College Campuses

ILLUSTRATION: April's Sexual Assault Awareness Month is focused on preventing violence on campuses, while recognizing that assaults can be more than physical in nature. Groups are calling out behaviors and instances that attempt to "normalize" sexual violence, and promoting values that encourage respect. Illustration courtesy Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.
ILLUSTRATION: April's Sexual Assault Awareness Month is focused on preventing violence on campuses, while recognizing that assaults can be more than physical in nature. Groups are calling out behaviors and instances that attempt to "normalize" sexual violence, and promoting values that encourage respect. Illustration courtesy Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.
April 23, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - It's back to school for April's Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Idaho.

While awareness is important, Kelly Miller, executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence said "action" is the focus as her group works with college and university campus leaders this month. She has found students have been great partners in helping peers call out behaviors and cultures connected to violence - whether these take the form of physical or verbal abuse.

"There's so much in our society, in the way that we act and what we believe and the structures, that really normalize sexual violence," she said. "That's why we have such horrific statistics on campuses."

Miller said another important understanding of the issue is to not dismiss behaviors as "isolated incidents - and learning to understand that violence is not this individual anomaly. We've created cultures that allow it to happen."

The prevention messages include respect, equity and justice - and the campaign isn't just about women. She said it can't be ignored that men also are victims of assaults and rapes.

Miller said the campaign is most active on campuses because young adults are considered to be most "at risk" of sexual assault. All Idahoans are encouraged to support the cause by wearing denim to work today.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID