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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would like to take this opportunity to inform the Federal community about the available resources for employees whose lives are affected by sexual assault. Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) became an idea in the late 1970s. Women in England began holding protests fighting against the violence they encountered while walking the streets at night. These events called “Take Back the Night” spread quickly around the world and are still widely participated in today. By the late 1980s, activists wanted a designated week to raise awareness about sexual assault and the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault designated a week in April. In 2001, the U.S. first observed SAAM and momentum began to build to prevent sexual violence.

As the chief human resource agency for the Federal Government, OPM supports that all Federal employees should feel safe and secure at work.  The effects of these incidents may greatly impact a survivor’s ability to maintain a healthy and productive work and personal life. In a way, it can affect all of us who live and work with victims and survivors, their children, and other loved ones. No one should have to work or live in a climate of fear or insecurity and Federal employees should feel confident that assaultive behavior is not accepted or tolerated.

Federal agencies already have taken steps to address this issue, and should continue to build on these important efforts and existing policies.  Agency Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer a wealth of support in the forms of information, resources, and counseling.  Employees should contact their agency EAP coordinator for assistance and support.  OPM hosts a site where you can locate your EAP coordinator.  As the largest employer in the nation, the Federal Government has a duty to promote the health and safety of its employees by providing support and assistance to those whose working lives are affected by sexual assault.  

OPM also would like to remind agencies of the Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking in the Workplace free, online training available for use Governmentwide.  This training is intended for all Government agencies and covers definitions and types of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking (DVSAS), how DVSAS is a workplace issue, possible signs and symptoms of DVSAS, the importance of maintaining confidentiality in the workplace, and identifying the internal and external resources available to assist employees and managers. 

We each have a role to play in combating sexual assault in the workplace and there are resources within each agency that provide guidance and support.  Let's continue working together to take care of not only ourselves, but the men and women we work alongside every day.   


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