Today we’re going to get a little more serious because it’s something serious to talk about. My friend Robin Strough is giving back to her Community by spending a lot of her free time volunteering for a cause that’s near and dear to her. Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR). She asked me if I’d be willing to let her borrow some space today and When she asked if she could do a guest post for me about the group she volunteers with, my answer was of course yes!
I see her strength in her words and actions, her bravery and her kindness shining like a beacon for those who need her help.
I have been volunteering/working with Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) for over two years. During my time with the organization I answer an after-hours crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault, child molestation, date rape, and domestic violence. Our calls range from people just wanting information, people who have just been victimized that just don’t know what to do next, people who are in counseling but having a bad night, people who are at the end of the rope and want to end their life over the pain from the horrible nightmare they live with every single day. I have met with victims in the emergency room after and attack and I have seen the devastation that rape can cause first hand with my own eyes.
Sometimes, I get to do some lighter things with the education department. I’ve taught a class at the Community College of Philadelphia on the legal repercussions of sexual assault by a life partner, I’ve attended the numerous productions of the Vagina Monologues and gave out information. I spoke at the JeffSoar event about our organization, I’ve attended many “Take Back the Night” events, and I head a team of friends and family for the “Take it all Back” march through the streets of Philadelphia.
This past week, I was asked to help with the 40th Anniversary Kick Off celebration. Nothing fancy, just sit in the room with the food and answer questions about the volunteer program. I got to meet and greet with Judges, the District Attorney of Philadelphia, Professors from the University of Pennsylvania, and many other important people in our fine city. During the presentation I listened to former directors, employees, and friends of WOAR share their stories about the growth of WOAR and just how far we have come. The main goal of the staff of WOAR is to end sexual violence and not have to celebrate another 40 years of service. And that hit home.
In 1973, women in Philadelphia were not permitted to become police detectives. Not sure how many know this, but it is a detective that interviews a rape victim. Back in 1973, a woman’s lifestyle, the way she dresses, and just how much she had to drink where key parts of the trial. A husband could not be charged with the rape of his wife, and as we all know, rape is rape, if you say no and someone takes it anyway, it’s rape regardless if you are married to the person. At that time it was believed, that rape could never happen to a man and a woman’s state of mind during the attack was not taken into account – and if she did not resist – she must have wanted it. Since 1973, WOAR has changed all of the above. The SVU unit was created, women were promoted to detectives, the District Attorney created a special department for victims of this violent crime, we now have a sexual assault response centers were victims are taken to receive medical treatment in private and not with the general public, and many other changes which are escaping my memory at this time.
So here we are 40 years later, and although we have made considerable progress, there is still so much more work to be done to bring an end to sexually violence and end the silence that inflicts it’s victims. It disturbs me that today we still have some people in positions of power who make comments such as “legitimate rape.” It’s proof of the struggles ahead.
Today, an article was wrote and posted on Philly.com – WOAR on Rape Rumbles on after 40 Years This article, to be seen by all on the internet, is a small step in the right direction. When I read it, I was beaming with pride to be a part of something so passionate and powerful. The author hit the nail on the head! And although some people will make rude and awful comments on the article (because face it, people will), I will continue to promote WOAR and all the good it does for people. I have counseled people as far as California on the phone. And I will never give up!!!
Someday, sexual violence will be a thing of the past. Children won’t have to worry about being hurt and touched by grownups, women, men, and children will not be afraid to walk alone in the dark, and you won’t have to cover your drink to prevent being date raped. Is this a naive statement ? Maybe? But I’ll never give up – will you ?
Change starts with education. Change starts with a compassionate heart. Change starts with a loud voice. Change starts with you. END THE SILENCE!
Pretty powerful stuff. I don’t imagine I need to say it to any of my readers, but sexual assault and violence is such a bad bad terrible thing. Do I have any other readers out there who volunteer with similar groups? Or who would like to share how they’re giving back to their communities?