In this month’s blog, we cover a rather difficult topic – that of rape, sexual abuse and incest. Until we started working on this piece featuring Christina Ricci, the national spokesperson for RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) – the country’s leading anti-sexual assault organization, I wasn’t truly aware of the staggering numbers associated with these heinous crimes, their ongoing psychological effects and where public policy issues currently stand with respect to reporting, prosecuting and DNA testing. I was also sadly ignorant of the wide range of personal violence that often goes hand-in-hand with sexual assault. While disturbing on many levels, the wealth of information available on the RAINN website is an invaluable tool and I hope you’ll take the time to read through and learn from its hugely important messages.
The timing on this is especially crucial with schools letting out soon for summer and with graduation holidays just around the corner. RAINN is the go-to site for first-time freshman going away to college, anyone planning to move out on their own or those getting that first job away from home. On April 14, 2008, RAINN launched its newest outreach program, a safe, secure, anonymous place for victims to get help online. Using an instant-messaging style format, the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline allows sexual assault victims to communicate directly with trained crisis support volunteers available on www.rainn.org Together with its tele-based National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE), the organization will be able to provide a lifeline to victims trapped in situations where their only safe and secure link to the outside world may be through the Internet.
According to Scott Berkowitz, president & founder of RAINN, somewhere in America, someone is being sexually assaulted at the alarming rate of every two minutes. Almost half of these victims are under 18 and 80% are under 30. The new National Sexual Assault Online Hotline provides the services these young victims need, using the technology they embrace. In addition to providing support to victims of sexual assault, the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline provides information about recovery, medical issues, the criminal justice process, and local resources for family and friends of victims.
We hope you find this month’s feature a worthy one and that you’ll shop online to support RAINN programming now and going forward. We want to especially thank Christina Ricci for her participation in bringing this to our and your attention and before signing off, encourage you to become a RAINNMaker to support the organization’s ongoing initiatives.
We’ll have more on RAINN with our regular features in our May newsletter – coming soon.