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Monday, November 28, 2016

What You Can Do to Support Survivors

What You Can Do to Support Survivors image

Sexual violence is in the national dialogue in a way that it never has been before. And the holiday season, which can be a stressful and difficult time for many survivors, is here. In addition to an increase in requests for services over the past year, BARCC has recently seen an influx of people reaching out to us with offers to volunteer and donate. Many are searching for answers to the question, “What can I do?”

Here are just five things you can do to support the survivors of sexual violence in your lives and in the world:

1. Listen, believe, empower.

When someone shares their experience with you, listen to them. Tell them that you believe them and that you are here for them. Trust them to make their own decisions. Learn more about how to support someone you know. And get your own support—BARCC services are available to friends and family, too.

2. Learn how to take action when you witness inappropriate comments or behavior.

Do you know what you’d do if you saw someone sexually harassing someone on the T? What if you heard someone making a joke about sexual assault? To support survivors and help prevent sexual violence, learn how to take action so that you’re prepared the next time it comes up (chances are it will). If you’re local to Boston, we have a workshop coming up that you can attend. And you can also request a bystander training for your school, organization, or community group!

3. Let people know about BARCC.

Our mission is to end sexual violence through healing and social change. We provide free, confidential support and services to survivors of sexual violence ages 12 and up and their families and friends. We work with survivors regardless of when the violence occurred, and our goal is to empower survivors to heal. We also work with a wide range of organizations and communities, including schools, colleges, and police, to advocate for change. We provide training in how to respond to survivors and create cultures that prevent sexual violence in the first place. Let your family, friends, coworkers, and networks—basically anyone and everyone—know that we are a resource!

4. Give people a visual cue that you support survivors.

Let people know that you are someone who cares about ending sexual violence and supporting survivors by communicating it visually. You can do this by wearing a BARCC button. Or make your own pin or sticker or sign that says, “I support survivors. End sexual violence.” Take a picture of yourself with the the sign (or button or sticker) and share it on social media (we like to use the hashtags #EndSV and #supportsurvivors). Or wear a teal ribbon (which traditionally stands for sexual assault awareness). These are just a few ideas.

5. Send a message of support.

We’re compiling messages of support for survivors and will share them in a creative project. Want to get involved? Fill out this form to send a message of support (to be shared publicly). Not sure what to say? Write from the heart. Just a few examples: “We believe you.” “You are strong, you are loved, you are not alone.”

What are your ideas?

These are just five things you can do, and we know there are hundreds more. Share your ideas in the comments below!

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 11/28 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Upcoming Community Events: Healing and Action

“What can I do?” “How can I help?”

These are two questions BARCC has been hearing over and over throughout this election cycle. We’ve been inspired and moved by the outpouring of support—and also reminded that the need for services like ours is greater than ever. As more and more survivors and their significant others reach out to talk to us about how the events of the past months have been affecting them, we want them to know they are not alone.

As an agency committed to ending sexual violence through healing and social change, we want to make sure all people in our communities are supported. There have been many individuals who have reached out to us in recent weeks to say that they feel frustrated, sad, helpless, and more. No one is alone in experiencing these feelings. At the same time, we know that no one is powerless to do something about the world we live in. Whether you are a survivor or someone who is interested in supporting the community, we all have the power to effect change.

We hope that you will join us on December 8 for a place to talk and heal, and on December 15 to learn how you can take action. You are welcome to RSVP to one or both events, and we will keep you up to date as more are scheduled for the future. Please let us know if you need any accommodations in order to attend, and feel free to contact with any questions.

Be Hope: Healing as a Community

This workshop is for survivors, their loved ones, and anyone feeling affected by the amount of sexual violence in the media coverage during the election. We are opening up our space to provide support to our community at this challenging time.

When: Thursday, December 8, 6:00–8:00 p.m.

Where: Family Justice Center, 989 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215

RSVP: Please fill out this Google form to RSVP. To help spread the word, you can also respond on Facebook and share with your networks.

  • Share and support one another as people affected by sexual violence and passionate about ending it
  • Learn about how coverage of the election can trigger trauma responses for survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones
  • Discuss how feelings of safety and trust have been affected and brainstorm ways to rebuild sense of safety and trust after experiencing trauma
  • Find ways to come together as a community to support survivors and one another
  • Learn more about BARCC services and ways you can get involved

Be Hope: Take Action to End Sexual Violence

This workshop is open to anyone in our community who wants to learn concrete tools to support survivors and all people who are feeling targeted at this challenging time. BARCC’s Bystander Intervention training will prepare you to notice when something is not right, assess the situation, and take action to disrupt and prevent violence or harassment against people who are vulnerable in our communities. Creating a safer culture starts with you, and we will help you practice techniques to intervene safely.  

When: Thursday, December 15, 6:00–8:00 p.m.

Where: Family Justice Center, 989 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215

RSVP: Please fill out this Google form to RSVP. To help spread the word, you can also respond on Facebook and share with your networks.

  • Build skills for safely acting to challenge inappropriate sexual and violent behaviors
  • Practice intervening in a variety of scenarios pulled from news of recent events so that you feel prepared for what you may encounter
  • Learn more about BARCC services and ways you can get involved

Hope to see you there!

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 11/28 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Be Hope: A Call to Action

Be Hope: A Call to Action image

The following message is from Gina Scaramella, BARCC's executive director: 

Dear BARCC community,

Yesterday was a day of caring for each other among our staff, volunteers, and board. Today, we want to offer you, as part of our bigger family, some of the same. We want to let you know that we remain here, with you, stronger than ever in our resolve to end sexual violence. And we want to share one thing you can do to take action.

Because this is a politically charged time, I want to be clear that BARCC is not about partisan politics—but like all effective organizations, we do have an agenda. It is an agenda that any person of goodwill can be on board with.  

Our mission is to eliminate sexual violence in all its forms. For anyone who has experienced it, we are a resource in your path of healing and justice. And we provide education and advocacy for the social change needed to prevent it.

Sexual violence has been constantly threaded throughout this lengthy presidential campaign. Our staff and volunteers have spent hours upon hours supporting survivors 24-7 from every walk of life who feel anxious, depressed, and fearful. I hope you feel pride in being a part of making that level of support possible.

At its core, sexual violence of every type is about dehumanizing people. It exists and flourishes because we allow inequalities to persist. Offenders exploit vulnerabilities in the people they choose to offend against and in society’s institutions and systems. That is how (and why) this work is tied to advancing civil rights and equality for all. 

We spend a lot of time engaging others in our mission. Last week we had an incredible anti-sexual harassment campaign launched with the MBTA and the Boston Center for Independent Living. This is one great example of how our work happens at the intersection of sexual violence and disability rights.   

You have seen so many aspects of sexual violence and human rights play out in this election. Every person, every human being, deserves a life free of sexual violence. We were lifted up yesterday by an outpouring of donations and requests to volunteer for BARCC. More than 50 people reached out offering to volunteer, and we received an average of one donation per hour, many from first-time donors with moving personal notes.

We need your help to continue our daily work at these intersections of healing and social justice. Here’s one thing you can do today: talk to your family and friends about BARCC and ask them to join us—whether through donatingvolunteering, or signing up for our e-mail. Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for more ways to take action and take care. 

Yesterday, one of our staff, a Muslim-American woman, noticed that our local florist shop's daily giveaway had special meaning: if your name matches the name on the sign, you get a free rose, and yesterday’s name was Hope. She came into the office with dozens of roses and told us we can each "be Hope." You, too, can be Hope. 

With deep gratitude, 

Gina Scaramella

P.S. Don't forget the other thing you can also do, always: reach out to BARCC for support by calling our 24-7 hotline: 800-841-8371.  

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 11/10 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, November 03, 2016

BARCC, MBTA, and Partners Launch New Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign

BARCC, MBTA, and Partners Launch New Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign image

For Immediate Release

MBTA: MassDOT Press Office: 857-368-8500
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center: Jessica Atcheson,, 617-649- 1288
Boston Center for Independent Living: Karen Schneiderman,, 617-338- 6665

Boston, Mass.—The MBTA, as part of a coalition of organizations, today launched a new information campaign to enhance passenger safety and encourage the public to report incidents of sexual harassment. The campaign’s message is that sexual assaults will not be tolerated on the T or anywhere else.

This year, the MASS Collaboration, a partnership with the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL), the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), the MBTA, and the MBTA Transit Police, developed the campaign with a focus on people with disabilities. MASS—Movement for Access, Safety & Survivors—is a collaboration whose goal is to insure that survivors and victims of sexual violence with disabilities in the Boston area have access to quality support services.

“The MBTA is proud to continue its groundbreaking campaign to address sexual harassment and to let the community of riders know that the MBTA cares that each rider has a safe ride,” said MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve.

“One person victimized is one too many, and we are keenly aware that sexual harassment and assault are under-reported crimes,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green. “We implore our riders to contact us if they see or experience any type of sexual assault. Be assured we take these reports with the utmost seriousness, and you will be treated with dignity and respect throughout the reporting and investigatory process. You are not alone—BARCC and the TPD stand with you."

“Findings show that people with disabilities experience sexual assault twice as often as those without disabilities. We have also been learning how people with disabilities can be active participants in preventing sexual violence against others,” said BCIL senior advocacy specialist Karen Schneiderman.

Boston’s public transportation system is one of the oldest in the country and is widely used by people with disabilities. MASS Collaboration works to create a safe environment for all customers, one that includes the needs of people with disabilities, including ensuring that reporting and response mechanisms are accessible. The MASS Collaboration is also increasing the skill and comfort of employees at BARCC, BCIL and the MBTA with respect to working with victims/survivors with disabilities. Efforts at the T have included developing information and trainings on topics such as responding to reports of sexual violence from those with disabilities, and how to secure wheeled mobility devices in a manner that is safe and empowering to customers.

As in past campaigns, advertisements will be posted on trains and buses, and postcards will be handed out to riders at several stations. Postcards will be available in large print and the MASS Collaboration has also created an online website to make the information accessible to those who are blind or have low vision:

“By increasing visibility of an under-addressed issue, we hope to let all riders know that you can make a difference if you intervene when you witness sexual violence. Accessible services are available at BARCC for survivors and those supporting and assisting them,” said Shelley Yen-Ewert, director of the MASS Collaboration [and BARCC's director of organizational development and learning].

MBTA car card: Image of woman with visual disability on left with text on purple background to right.

I could hear this dude saying, "I'm just fooling around, bro" . . . and then a young voice say, "Please, leave me alone," and I knew something wasn't right so I called the T police.

The car was packed and he couldn't maneuver his wheelchair too well. I knew he couldn't get away . . . from the woman harassing him so I squeezed between them and texted the T police.

I could tell the way she was looking at me she wanted me . . . to back her up. So, I told the guy harassing her to leave her alone and sent his photo to the T police.

I could tell she wasn't sure what to do . . . but I could see he was rubbing up against her. So we got off at the next stop and called the T police.

Everyone has the right to a safe ride, and anyone can experience verbal or physical sexual harassment. If it happens to you or someone else, report it to stop it. To report, call the Transit Police: 617-222-1212. For support, call BARCC's 24-hour hotline: 800-841-8371. 

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 11/03 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

2016 Champions for Change Gala & Auction Most Successful Yet

2016 Champions for Change Gala & Auction Most Successful Yet image

More than 620 BARCC supporters, volunteers, and staff gathered this past Friday for our annual Champions for Change Gala & Auction. In addition to a rousing live auction, the evening featured a moving speaking program to celebrate young survivors and the power we all have to end sexual violence. The event was BARCC’s most successful to date, setting records and exceeding our expectations by wide margins!

Attorney General Maura Healey welcomed everyone to the event: “Sexual violence affects people of every gender, every race, and every age, and BARCC has committed to serve all survivors,” Healey said, “It is challenging and emotional work, but BARCC confronts it bravely and with compassion, expertise, and commitment to healing.”

The highlight of the evening came when survivor speaker Shaira Medina (pictured above) took the stage to a standing ovation. Shaira shared her story and her experience at BARCC: “The Youth Leadership Corps really helped me develop a passion for activism. . . . Three years ago, I felt like life was no longer worth living. Today, I love my life."

Cathleen Bonner and Rob Almoney were honored as Champions for Change. Cathleen has volunteered for BARCC since 1998 as a rape crisis counselor and public educator. Rob, Cathleen’s husband, has volunteered as a fundraiser since 2007 and is now on BARCC’s staff as a development officer. "We want to put BARCC out of business,” they said as they accepted the award. “It won't happen overnight. But it won't happen at all without you." BARCC also honored volunteers of the year Schuyler Daum, who is a medical advocate; Jessie Lowell, who volunteers for the Community Awareness and Prevention Services program; and Jessica Nissenbaum, who is a hotline volunteer.

“Our annual Champions for Change Gala is a way for friends of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center to come together and celebrate the achievements of survivors as well as the individuals who sustain our work,” said BARCC Executive Director Gina Scaramella. “We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of our work given by our sponsors, supporters, and gala attendees.”

Activist sponsors of the Champions for Change Gala & Auction were 90+ Cellars, Accunet, Bentley University, Citizens Bank, Goodwin, Insource Services, Inc., Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Northeastern University, Ropes and Gray, and Uber. Community sponsors were Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston IT Services (BITS), Curry College, Eastern Bank, Eaton Vance, Emerson College, ExecuSpace Construction Corporation, Foley Hoag LLP, Funding Change Consulting, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mount Ida College, Partners HealthCare, Sherin & Lodgen LLP, and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Were you at the Gala? Let us know how it was!

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 11/01 • (0) CommentsPermalink

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