The past several years have been a series of highly publicized cases surrounding sexual violence. All platforms of mass media, including traditional sources, such as newspapers and TV and new media like podcasts and social media have provided around the clock profiling and highlighting of this public health issue. Many professionals in anti-sexual violence work, including those of us at NCCASA, can appreciate the attention to an issue that we understood to be pervasive long before it was trending.
This increased awareness shines a spotlight on the reality that survivors deserve more. Survivors deserve more justice, more resources, more advocacy, more options, and more healing. As Advocates it is our charge to create, foster and facilitate the spaces for survivors to thrive. This begins by listening and of course by believing. It requires us to examine our service delivery and expand beyond the traditional hospital services and court response. We must follow up, we must be available.
Following up and creating space for a survivor is what led to highly effective advocacy and swift justice in Cumberland county last week. It is unconscionable that these survivors experienced further victimization at the hands of someone positioned to help them. Notably this story highlights the importance of victim advocacy and how necessary it is that rape crisis centers be seen as a survivor centered, trauma informed beacon in the community.
The other side of the media attention, more broadly, is that it is providing survivors with alternatives to healing. When the system fails them their talent and resilience sustain them in spite of. One of the most present examples of this came last week from Chanel Miller, a sexual assault survivor whose powerful impact statement addressed to her rapist, Brock Turner, went viral. This five-minute video is a beautifully powerful reclamation of survivor voice.
We must celebrate survivors no matter where they are in their journey to healing and share their work widely. We are still committed to helping survivors use their voice. If you are working with a survivor who may be interested in media training to help them talk about their assault , their experience with the system or their ideas for change, please have them contact Charnesa Ridley, NCCASA Training and Communications Director, via phone at 919-871-1015 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org