Tori Amos Helps RAINN Celebrate 20 Years of Hope

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This weekend, singer-songwriter Tori Amos will be the guest of honor at a special brunch in Washington, DC. Tori answered the first ceremonial call of the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline when it launched 20 years ago. Since then, through her music and as a survivor, Tori has helped countless survivors heal from sexual violence.

Leading up to RAINN’s 20th Birthday Celebration with Tori Amos this weekend, Chaz Kangas of the Village Voice interviewed RAINN president and founder Scott Berkowitz to hear more about when RAINN was founded and how Tori’s partnership came about. Here are some of the highlights:

Q: Tori Amos has probably been the most associated with RAINN over the years. Do you recall how her partnership blossomed with RAINN?

A: She's been a huge part of the organization and our accomplishments. From the very beginning, she played the spokesperson role and also really drew a lot of people to the organization. … We were able to help people at all of her concerts and help promote the hotline that way, as well as help bring in different corporate partners and sponsors.

Q: Was there a particular moment you realized when RAINN was really connecting with people?

A: There were a few moments. We were very fortunate that our first donors were Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group. Atlantic, at the time, was Tori Amos' label. One of the ways they offered to help was to connect us with Tori and she agreed to be our first spokes person. Warner also brought on a lot of their other artists from R.E.M. to Hootie and the Blowfish. Even though we had a small budget and small staff, that launched us to a level of visibility that lead it take off and driving thousands of people to call the hotline.

Q: What's the biggest difference between RAINN now and 20 years ago?

A: The biggest is that our mission expanded significantly. We started out really just running a telephone hotline and over time we learned a couple things. Most survivors are fairly young, so as technology became more important it became clear that was how people like to communicate, we began the first online hotline service. Most survivors of that are between 13 and 27 and it's, for many of them, a much more preferable way to get help as it's such a hard thing to talk about on the phone.

To read more about how RAINN was founded two decades ago, as well as Tori’s landmark 1997 benefit concert, read Chaz Kangas’ full story on the Village Voice’s website.

Can’t make it to the party on August 17? Find out how you can celebrate with us here.

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