By: Desiré Vincent Levy
Almost three years ago, my husband, DeAndré and I launched Our Issue to raise money to support the ongoing effort of processing over 11,000 neglected rape kits that were found in an abandoned Detroit warehouse. We joined the effort of many individuals and a few organizations that were active across the city, working together with one goal in mind: End the backlog.
While raising money to process and investigate rape kits in Detroit made sense for us, for you there may be other, more important ways — specific and unique to your community — to elevate or even lead initiatives that support healing and justice for sexual assault survivors. From raising money to having hard conversations with your family and friends about rape culture showing up in the news of the day to advocating for trauma-informed policy in our schools to volunteering with your local rape crisis center — we all have a role. But will you step up?
In honor of April’s sexual assault awareness month, and all of the days beyond, below are a few suggestions of ways you can join the fight against sexual assault:
- Learn more about how to respond when someone discloses sexual assault or abuse to you. If a survivor trusts you enough to share, you have an opportunity to make them feel heard and cared for, as well as share important resources for them to get help when they’re ready.
- Write an Op-ed. (Like this one written by my husband DeAndre) Op-eds can inform and influence readers and can bring considerable attention to this cause. Research sexual assault in your community, then write an op-ed for a local or national newspaper, or self-publishing site like medium.com.
- Use social media. Social media can help spread awareness and advocate for social change. Use hashtags to share articles and start or join in conversations on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Use hashtags like #SAAM (sexual assault awareness month) to contribute to and follow conversations.
- Volunteer at your local rape crisis center. If there isn’t a local center near you, consider volunteering at the national level with RAINN’s online hotline.
- Do not feed rape culture with silence or approval when people around you make offensive statements. Whether it’s at school, in the locker room, the hair salon, the board room or wherever else, when you hear victims being belittled or blamed with statements like “They were asking for it,” be sure to explain that a survivor is not responsible, nor did they deserve what happened to them.
If you’d like to support our ongoing Our Issue fundraiser, you can purchase a t-shirt on Detroit Hustles Harder. All proceeds from shirts will benefit Enough SAID, Wayne County SAFE, and the SASHA Center to support the ongoing effort of investigating the backlog of rape kits in Detroit and providing direct services and care to survivors.