Therapist on Listening to Survivors’ Needs

Each month, RAINN highlights a member of its National Leadership Council. 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, RAINN sat down with Stacy Kaiser, a Southern California-based licensed psychotherapist, author, relationship expert and media personality for her thoughts on where we are and where we need to go as a society to support survivors.

What inspired you to become part of RAINN’s National Leadership Council?

I was introduced to RAINN by Lifetime while working on their impactful series Surviving R. Kelly. I was immediately called to action after seeing RAINN’s work. They do such an impressive job at helping survivors and their loved ones, working towards changing attitudes and beliefs surrounding sexual violence, and building more opportunities for achieving justice for those who have been impacted. The fact that RAINN is not only a first point of contact, but also carries survivors through their experiences and into healing, makes them an organization I’m proud to support. I’m proud to not only serve on the NLC, but to support RAINN in any way I can and urge others to join me.

What do we need to do as a country to prevent sexual violence?

I believe that there is work to be done at home, in organizations and educational institutions, in our communities and at the local, state, and national levels. Overall, we need to provide psychological, medical, and financial resources for those impacted by sexual violence. We must implement bystander education so that people know how to prevent and intervene when violence occurs. We need to create and enforce policies so that perpetrators are held accountable. We need to incorporate survivor-centered discourse to help support and lift up those who have experienced violence.

Do you feel special motivation about this issue as a psychotherapist?

In my 25 years as a psychotherapist, I have counseled hundreds of victims of sexual violence. While I have always believed that therapy is a key element to healing, I also know that it is critical for survivors to have support from organizations that not only understand what they have experienced, but also provide resources to help them through the healing process.

How can we all be better supporters and advocates for survivors in our lives?

Use survivor-centered language, educate ourselves on helpful intervention and prevention practices. Support organizations like RAINN that provide critical resources. Express compassion and learn how to listen to the needs of survivors in our lives and community.

What is your message to survivors?

First and foremost, I see you, I hear you, I support you, I believe you, and what happened to you was not your fault. What you have experienced does not define you. Please always remember, your voice matters, your healing matters, and you are worthy and loved. No one can ever take any of that away.

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