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!