NLC Member Highlight: Paul McComas

Each month, RAINN features a member of its National Leadership Council (NLC). The NLC is a group of dedicated individuals who have shown their commitment to RAINN’s mission of supporting survivors and ending sexual violence. This month we checked in with author Paul McComas.

Why are you passionate about ending sexual violence?

Many years ago, at age 20, my first-ever girlfriend Julia was raped. Six months later, wracked with post-traumatic stress and depression, she took her own life. Since then, I've felt obligated to do all that I can to help all the other "Julias" to obtain the services and assistance they need in order to survive, heal, grow and, ultimately, thrive.

What is your message to survivors?

The fact that someone managed to rape or assault you doesn't make you weak. Quite the opposite: coming forward requires, and demonstrates, great strength, even heroism, on your part. By telling what happened and naming names, you're minimizing the chance of the same thing happening to others.

How has your passion for ending sexual violence influenced your art, advocacy, work, etc.?

My creative work—writing, acting in, producing, and directing stage shows and films; writing fiction; making original music—has long intersected with social advocacy, progressive activism, and healing. It's not about creating preachy "message pieces" that push an explicit agenda; it's about making art that's actually about that entertains, but also challenges by displaying depth and meaning. In a world of struggle, the empathetic artist must address vital issues.

For my part, there's no single issue I've wound up addressing more in my art than that of sexual assault, survival, and recovery. People—and especially trauma survivors—need realistic yet positive and inspirational stories about healing. That's why I wrote my novel Unplugged, turned it into a stage show with a soundtrack album, and am in the process of bringing it to the big screen as a feature film—a multi-faceted, ongoing project whose proceeds, incidentally, benefit RAINN.

DNA evidence can increase likelihood of holding a perpetrator accountable.

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Sexual violence has fallen by half in the last 20 years.

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