This April, RAINN Recognized the Difference Friends and Family Can Make

Each April, RAINN’s community joins together to honor survivors and elevate the national conversation around sexual violence in support of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAPM).

This year, RAINN focused on the vital role friends and family play in supporting survivors, particularly, as they share their story for the first time, by reminding loved ones to “TALK” to survivors:

  • Thank them for telling you
  • Ask how you can help
  • Listen without judgment
  • Keep supporting

“We hear time and again from survivors that the support they receive from those they’re closest to can have a huge impact on their healing,” says Heather Drevna, vice president of communications at RAINN.

For anyone looking to support someone in their life, RAINN created a Friends and Family Toolkit to help guide loved ones through these difficult conversations. Topics include: practical advice on supporting survivors, feelings that friends and family may experience when they find out that someone they care about has been sexually assaulted, and guidance on self-care. Throughout the month, RAINN shared the toolkit, along with infographics detailing the “TALK” method, and survivors’ stories of how friends and family have made a difference in their healing.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RAINN Day—an annual day of awareness and action for college students across the country, and one of the highlight’s of RAINN’s SAAPM activities—went virtual. RAINN hosted a series of virtual “study breaks” on Instagram live featuring Stephen Chbosky, author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Imaginary Friend, singer-songwriter Jade Bird, and yoga instructor Jackie Reilly.

“We were thrilled to see such a strong level of engagement this RAINN Day,” said Drevna. “We were so moved by the talent and enthusiasm of our special guests and were pleased to be able to bring people together and share messages of hope during these uncertain times.”

Supporters across the country drew the #LetsGet Loud blue megaphones on their hands to show their peers that they care about and are committed to speaking up about sexual violence, and the live virtual study breaks reached thousands of people around the world. In fact, RAINN gained the amount of followers they usually acquire in a month in one day.

Throughout the month, RAINN also spread the word on supporting loved ones through media interviews, an op-ed for MTV News by RAINN’s vice president of victim services, Keeli Sorensen and in a guest blog post for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Additionally, radio and television PSAs shared with stations across the country, RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline reached thousands of households. On April 29, RAINN’s community came together in solidarity across the nation to participate in Denim Day, an annual day of wearing denim as a symbol of not blaming sexual violence on what a survivor was wearing at the time.

“Thank you to everyone who showed their support for survivors this month,” said Drevna. “Especially now, during this difficult time, it’s crucial that we stand with survivors.”

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