Brittany’s Volunteer Story: “I’m Just There To Be a Good Listener”

A few evenings every week, Brittany H. returns home from work, settles on her sofa, opens her laptop, and starts her volunteer shift for RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network). 

Anyone with an internet-connected device can access Live Chat support via RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline, where Brittany has volunteered for an incredible eight years. Through the confidential messaging platform, Brittany provides live, secure, and anonymous crisis support to survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones

Volunteering for RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline

In 2016, the RAINN Hotline presented precisely the kind of give-back opportunity Brittany was seeking. 

“I was living in New York, had a full-time job, and was trying to figure out a way to help others around me,” she told us. “I've always looked at RAINN as doing amazing work, so I was happy to see an opportunity to get certified as a RAINN Hotline volunteer.”

Training to Support Survivors of Sexual Violence

The National Sexual Assault Hotline serves thousands of visitors each month, many of whom reach out to disclose sexual trauma for the very first time. For Brittany, RAINN’s thorough training gave her confidence that she could provide effective support. “The training RAINN provides is essential because it's one thing to want to volunteer, but it's another thing to feel fully equipped to handle such a task.” 

One of her biggest training takeaways was that not every conversation needs to be solution oriented. “Every visitor has different needs. I’m just there to be a good listener and adjust to those needs,” Brittany explained. “Some people are looking for a specific resource, but most people just want to be heard and validated; they want to know that they're not alone.” 

Making RAINN a Safe Space to Talk Openly

After joining a Live Chat, RAINN visitors aren’t always sure what they want to say—or how to say it. Brittany never pushes anyone to share more than they’re comfortable revealing, but her years have experience have taught her some effective prompts.

“I might ask, Are you here to talk about something you're currently experiencing or something from your past? That usually helps open up the dialogue.”

She also described the “little dot bubbles” that appear in the chat platform when a visitor is talking. “If someone is sharing the most traumatic experience of their life and they see that you’re typing, too, it’s like you’re interrupting them,” said Brittany. “I have to be very thoughtful with the way I communicate and listen.”

The Value of Being a RAINN Hotline Volunteer

RAINN provides Hotline volunteers with all the resources they need to support the survivors and allies who chat or call. “You just have to be there and listen. Even if you can’t relate to what that person is going through, it's an opportunity to connect with another person,” expressed Brittany. 

“It has truly been an honor to volunteer with RAINN for the last eight years. I take it very seriously.”

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

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Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 310 are reported to the police.

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