For groups fighting to reduce Alaska’s sexual assault rate, April is not just another month. It's a time packed with events aimed at calling attention to a problem that hits this state hard, a sexual assault rate that is 2.6 times higher than the national average. Advocacy groups like Standing Together Against Rape have been planning a public awareness campaign for months. STAR’s executive director, Nancy Haag, says, “It’s an opportunity to mobilize change.” Opening ceremonies for Sexual Assault Awareness Month begin at 11:30 a.m. today at the Loussac Library assembly chambers. A variety of well known speakers have been lined up that include: Katie TePas, the governor’s special assistant on domestic violence and sexual assault response; Walt Monegan, director of the Alaska Native Justice Center; US Attorney Karen Loeffler; Brigadier General Deborah McManus, commander of the Alaska Air National Guard; Air Force Colonel Robert Evans, commander of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson; Diane Ingle, Director of the Anchorage Department of Health and Social Services; Rick McCafferty, Family Wellness Warriors Initiative Training Specialist; and Ma’o Tosi, founder of the AK PRIDE Program. The theme they’ll take up today is how to become a voice against violence -- and how to get people thinking about what they can do, in both big and small ways, to make a difference. Three people will be recognized for intervening in sexual assaults and coming to the aid of a victim, including a man who heard someone pounding at his door one night, and when he opened it, found a woman who was bleeding and trying to escape a rapist. Professionals who work to assist victims and support survivors will also be honored. The events planned for this month are targeted at a variety of groups in a variety of ways. Next Friday, men will gather at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, for the “Walk-A-Mile in Her-Shoes” event, in which they will strap on high heels and walk to bring attention to the issues. While the event is humorous, organizers say it’s a positive way to get the word out: that sexual violence is not acceptable, that it must be “stomped out.” A number of public awareness presentations are scattered throughout April. The high point of the month comes on April 21, with the “Take Back the Night” rally, which will be held on April 21 in Town Square. It features survivors and community members taking a stand against violence, as well as a march and entertainment to celebrate unity.