There's nothing political in pointing out that people in leadership positions—government officials, college administrators, military leaders, company executives, and others—throughout the United States are not taking sexual violence seriously. Now, more than ever, survivors of sexual assault need to hear that we’ve got their back. We believe them. We support their journeys to heal. And in the work to end sexual violence, there is a role for everyone to play.
Even if you don’t personally know anyone who has been sexually assaulted (although statistically there is a very high likelihood that you do), you can make an important statement by showing up and participating in BARCC’s Walk for Change on April 23. Your presence alone will send a strong message to survivors that you believe them, they aren’t alone, and they are worthy of justice, love, and happiness.
We know that in today’s social and political climate, people are showing up to more rallies than they ever thought would be necessary. We also know you care about a multitude of issues. BARCC’s Walk for Change is the largest event in New England solely focused on ending sexual violence and supporting survivors. And many other issues, such as immigration, transgender discrimination, and more, directly affect survivors of sexual violence.
Recovery from sexual assault is a complex process. While there are common thoughts, feelings, and emotional or physical reactions that many survivors experience in the aftermath of an assault, there is no “right” way to heal. Some survivors seek professional help immediately after an assault. For others, simply acknowledging what happened to them can take months or even years. This can make it difficult for a survivor’s loved ones to understand how to best support them.
But know this: wherever a survivor is in the healing process, social support—both formal and informal—does help.
"Being among a crowd of people who are all gathered for similar reasons gives me a sense of belonging. It's like being swaddled in love, trust, and belief," says a BARCC survivor speaker of her experience at the Walk.
Research shows that when survivors of sexual assault receive social support, they are more likely to experience positive life change and growth—and they’re less likely to suffer post-traumatic stress or depression.
That’s why showing up at the walk to support survivors is no small thing. The importance of showing up is embodied in the theme of this year’s Walk for Change—“Power of You: Supporting All Survivors.” Your presence will make a difference.
As Sophie Hansen, one of BARCC’s survivor speakers, put it:
“When someone is sick with a physical ailment and has to take some time off from work, we visit them and bring them food. I've always wondered, why can't that be the same response for survivors of sexual violence? For some, leaves of absence from school or work are required to recuperate and heal. The Walk for Change has proven to me that there are people that are willing to reach out, break the stigma, and show up for me and others. . . . Every year I find something new that resonates with me, even though the assault took place almost a decade ago. This walk helps me heal in a new way each year I attend.”
Get your friends and family to show up for survivors, too! Help us spread the word by letting them know about the Walk for Change. Let’s get thousands of people to show up for survivors, and add their voices to the movement to end sexual violence.
Get more information and register today. See you on Sunday, April 23!