I volunteer with the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) of Oregon (USA).
SARC is one of thousands of international organizations who (on miniscule budgets) provide advocacy, case management, funding access, education, counseling, and a lot of different kinds of individualized support to current and past survivors of sexual trauma.
Currently, my agency is in the midst of a fundraising blitz, and I've been badgering my family, friends, co-workers, and sundry strangers to donate time or money to this cause.
[Ahem. I'm including the link to my current fundraising page, but encourage you to donate where YOUR community is most impacted.]
There are organizations in every state in the US, every province in Canada, and most major cities globally who focus on helping the survivors of sexual assault rebuild themselves and navigate their lives post-trauma.
Sexual assault is an ongoing epidemic more likely to impact someone you know than heart disease, cancer, or car crash.
Every survivor deserves to receive careful, thoughtful support and advocacy. I can attest from my own experience as an advocate that programs like these fill a crucial gap between experiencing an assault and trying to navigate the legal and health systems and services, and psychological and emotional healing process.
I wish there were programs that fought the cause of sexual assault better, and could certainly opine about how violence against women is something MEN need to take ownership of and FIX ALREADY. However, I am proud of the amazing women and men I've met in this field who do the work every day to help with the aftermath.
While April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA, there is ample reason to donate your money or time now: despite the fact that sexual assault reporting appears to be on a slight decline for most age groups, reported sexual assault of college-age women is at an all time high. Now is the time agencies like mine are gearing up to provide safety training and information to high school and college-age women and men.
President Obama's new Office on Violence Against Women provides a list of US resources (one per state) who can point those desiring to donate or volunteer to appropriate community agencies:
International agencies include Stop Violence Against Women.
If you know anybody who has experienced assault, you have seen (or felt) the devestating heartbreak and pain caused by sexual violence. Please take a minute today to think about this epidemic and what you can do to help.