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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Webinar on Vicarious Trauma

Calling all providers working with survivors of sexual violence! Do you want to better understand vicarious trauma and explore ways to devleop resiliency and healthy coping skills? Tune into a webinar this Thursday featuring Vanessa Siebald, our senior bilingual clinician. 

What: National TeleNursing Center Webinar on Vicarious Trauma

When: Thursday, August 25, 2016, 1:00–2:00 p.m. (EST)

How: Connect online by visiting and selecting "Enter as guest"; connect via phone by calling 866-546-3377 and using pass code: 962739. 

Check out the flyer and spread the word!

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 08/23 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Announcing Teen Drop-In Sessions

Want to connect with other teens and learn more about BARCC? 

Come to one of our teen drop-in sessions this fall!


5:00–7:00 p.m. on the following Wednesdays:

  • September 7
  • September 21
  • October 5
  • October 19
  • November 2
  • November 16
  • December 7
  • December 21


BARCC's Cambridge office, 99 Bishop Allen Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139


Call Danielle at 617-649-1284 for more information!

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 08/16 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Let’s Focus on Healing, Prevention, and Accountability

The following post was written by Stephanie Trilling, director of BARCC’s community awareness and prevention services.

In a recent Boston Globe op-ed entitled “Don’t encourage young women to feel traumatized,” Wendy Kaminer derides the work of activists working to end sexual violence. Kaminer’s piece unfairly judges activists and survivors, ignores survivors’ realities, and only distracts from the vital work needed to end sexual violence. Our take at BARCC is that survivors are courageous for coming forward about any kind of sexual violence, that each survivor experience and response is unique and valid, and that we need to focus on supporting all survivors, on prevention, and on institutional accountability.

Strength in coming forward

First off, no matter what kind of sexual violence they have experienced, survivors show strength and resilience in coming forward and acknowledging how they've been affected. This is especially true in a culture that, on the whole, blames survivors, excuses offenders, and minimizes sexual violence.

At BARCC, day in and day out, we work with clients who have been deeply affected by their experiences. Most of these survivors tell us that no one has ever acknowledged their pain, that they feel “crazy,” that they think they should be stronger. We work with survivors of all genders who struggle to get out of bed and go to work or to school each day, who are in jeopardy of losing or who have already lost their housing, who cannot sleep through the night without waking in fear from nightmares. All of these are common experiences for someone who has survived the trauma of sexual violence. Acknowledging the impact of sexual abuse and harassment takes great strength and asking for help is a courageous act, not a weakness.

Comparing forms of sexual violence: not helpful

When it comes to sexual violence, it is not helpful to compare experiences or to judge how people react to them. When referring to the assault of a student at Phillips Exeter Academy covered by the Globe, Kaminer wrote, “Many older women endured similar encounters over the years . . . and many of us emerged unscathed.” What women have survived in the past is no reason to excuse such violations in the present. Even more importantly, every survivor experiences the trauma of sexual violence uniquely and will respond differently; we must not dismiss anyone’s trauma based on someone else’s experience. And judging an individual’s response based on the experience they have had is neither productive nor helpful to survivors—or to institutions that are being called on to change how they respond to and prevent abuse.

How can anyone say what is more traumatic? It’s unfair to compare the various forms of sexual violence and their effects. We refuse to make such comparisons. There is, however, a lot to be gained from the solidarity that comes from acknowledging the impact of rape culture on women, LGBTQ folks, non-binary people, children, communities of color, people with disabilities, sex workers, immigrants, and all people who are targeted for being a part of a vulnerable population.  

Institutional response and betrayal

It’s important to note, too, that institutional response and betrayal can be just as traumatic for people as the initial event. When a survivor comes forward and is not believed, when an offender is not held accountable, when a survivor is mistreated in the process—that causes harm. And it makes it more difficult for others to come forward when they experience sexual violence.  

Kaminer argues that offenders are unfairly subject to the overcriminalization of sexual misconduct. Her response is dangerously close to the “boys will be boys” mentality. People who choose to exert their power over others and sexually violate them must be held accountable in order for their behavior—and the societal attitudes that enabled it—to change. The criminal justice system is far from perfect, and yes, we do need more robust treatment options for child and adult offenders, but to argue that society overcriminalizes sexual misconduct is gravely misguided (see “Criminal justice system ill-prepared to tackle cases of sexual violence,” a letter to the editor from Gina Scaramella, BARCC’s executive director, published by the Boston Globe).  

Healing, prevention, and institutional accountability

Ultimately, focusing on how survivors should or shouldn't react distracts from the work of healing sexual trauma, holding offenders and institutions accountable, and advancing work to prevent sexual violence.

In her closing, Kaminer claims that activists are “imposing . . . expectations of trauma” and “stigmatizing resilience.” This is far from the truth. What is more resilient than a young person coming forward and speaking out, not just against her assailant’s behaviors, but an entire system that has been set up to repeatedly excuse and minimize the behaviors of offenders and to question, ridicule, and place blame on survivors? At BARCC, we believe that there is no act more resilient than a person speaking out against a broken system that excuses offenders and puts the burden on survivors.

We are in solidarity with all survivors who take great risks in sharing their stories and demanding systemic change to address sexual violence. And we are deeply committed to preventing sexual violence in the first place. The more we educate people of all ages to understand consent, respect others’ bodies, and take action as bystanders, the more we move toward ending all forms of sexual violence.

Find out more about BARCC’s community awareness and prevention services.

Stephanie Trilling is the director of BARCC’s community awareness and prevention services.

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 07/27 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Urgent Support for Youth Survivors: Call Your Legislators!

We need your urgent help to support youth survivors of sexual violence. We just learned that in Massachusetts state budget negotiations, vital funding for Youth at Risk Programs has been cut. What this means to us: fewer resources for youth survivors of sexual violence. Please contact your legislators (find them here) to demand that this funding be restored!

The proposed cuts, to line item 4590-1507, would eliminate procured services to 41 community organizations, serving more than 21,000 youth across the Commonwealth. Funding for Youth at Risk Programs enables BARCC to help youth survivors across the state get the support they need to heal from trauma. We use some of these funds to train youth outreach workers—often the first folks who young people disclose having experienced sexual violence to—in the skills they need to effectively support youth with a trauma-informed approach.

These programs specifically serve youth who are often facing multiple barriers to accessing resources, such as homelessness, recent immigration, or identifying as LGBTQ. They may also be showing up in systems (school discipline, social services, etc.) as a result of the violence they’ve experienced and common trauma responses. It is essential that youth outreach workers have the information they need to respond with care and skill to the youth they are working with.

Please call your Massachusetts legislators today! Tell them the following:

  1. I am a constituent.
  2. Please restore funding for Youth at Risk Programs, budget line item 4590-1507.
  3. These funds support youth survivors of sexual violence.

Not sure who your legislators are? Use the Open:States website to look them up and find their contact info.

Once you’ve called, ask your friends, family, and networks to call, too! Share our posts on Facebook and Twitter

Is this really the time to be cutting funding for youth sexual assault prevention and response? Our answer: no. Together, we can make sure that youth survivors get the support they need! 

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Posted by Jessica L. Atcheson on 06/30 • (0) CommentsPermalink

Friday, February 07, 2014

Blog under construction

The blog is under construction.  Please send any feedback to  Thank you for reading! In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter  (@barcc) or like us on Facebook (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center)!


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Posted by stacey on 02/07 • (0) CommentsPermalink

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