Knowledge is Power

Authored by Melissa Nadzan

This is the Ocean County library’s banner for April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) book display. This display will have resources that can be utilized, along with books and information compiled from sources that can help sexual assault victims move on with their lives.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), “Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted” (RAINN 2018). On top of that Kimble states, “It may sound incredible that only around 23 percent of survivors report such crimes to police, but it’s true” (2018). Survivors of sexual violence will not always come forward for a number of reasons including, their own shame, not understanding the process, or lack of support. The display personifies support, empathy, and gives survivors access to county resources that are available and information on how to pursue criminal charges in court. 

The above photo is the banner I created for the book display in the library, which will be up throughout the month of April. These resources will include therapy workbooks, memoirs, and self-help books to start the healing process, hotlines for 24/7 help and websites for online material. By showcasing the library’s resources, we can help survivors get access to free to the help and knowledge that they deserve. The jeans and teal coloring are used to be eye catching in order to draw people’s attention to the display while encouraging patrons to check out new resources relating to the subject, and to show solidarity with the survivors of our community. 

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), the decision to use teal color ribbons evolved because, “In the early 2000s, the primary goal of SAAM was awareness — both raising visibility of the teal ribbon and the meaning behind it” (2018). Since teal was the color voted to bring awareness to Sexual Assault; using teal for both the lettering and the ribbons would be a reminder to our community’s survivors that we trust, respect, and believe in what happened to them, and we believe in what they can still accomplish. 

The denim jeans represent our unity with the victims. This was brought about by a moment of solidarity shown to an 18-year-old sexual assault survivor in Italy. In 1998 the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction of this young victim sighting that because she wore tight denim jeans, she would have needed to help remove them, therefore there could be no sexual assault, it would have been consensual (Mueller and Wortgow 2020). Because of this ruling the women of Italy’s parliament, to show their solidarity with the survivor, went into parliament the following day wearing denim jeans to show that clothing is not an invitation to sexual assault, and that they believed the victim (ibid). By using the jeans as our banner, we will reinforce and bring back to life the powerful statement made all those years ago that, ‘Clothes are not an Invitation’ to sexual assault and violence. 

St Francis Community Center partnering with the County Prosecutor’s office, the Commission for the Status of Woman, and the library hope that this display of resources and information will make sure all survivors feel that they can and should come forward to get help and justice. This display will also help family and friends extend support to all survivors. As stated in Safeline a nonprofit crisis center in England, “Often both survivors and their supporters struggle with feeling helpless and angry in the aftermath, and it can take some time to learn how to respond” (Safeline 2020, para 2). This display will make sure that the survivors and their family and friends will know where to go for support and guidance in order to help mitigate feelings of helplessness. This information will also help survivors understand the next step; how to preserve evidence that will help bring criminals to justice and give the victims our community their lives back. 


Angel, Christine M. n.d. “Information Representation through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency: Providing the Under and Misrepresented with a Voice within Our Cultural Heritage Records.” Evolution of Teaching Philosophy: 1–7.

Kimble, Cameron. 2018. “Sexual assault remains dramatically underreported. Brennan center for justice.

Mueller, Emily and Wortgow, Leslie. 2020. “History of denim. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh counseling center.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center. n.d. “History of sexual assault awareness.” Accessed March 11, 2020.

Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network. n.d. “Victims of sexual violence: Statistics.” Accessed March 13, 2020.

Safeline believe in you. n.d. “What can friends and family members do to support survivor of sexual assault.” Accessed March 11, 2020.