Speakers Bureau FAQs

The Speakers Bureau is made up of over 1,500 volunteers who have survived sexual violence. These individuals represent a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. Together they make up an invaluable resource of knowledge and strength. RAINN matches volunteer members of the Speakers Bureau with people all over the country who are looking to work with survivors of sexual violence, such as the media, event organizers, students, and artists.

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Information for the media and/or event organizers

Who are the members?

The Speakers Bureau is made up of over 1,500 survivors of sexual violence. They represent a wide range of experiences, gender identities and backgrounds. They have all volunteered to be part of this growing network of survivors of sexual violence.

How does RAINN match volunteers with opportunities?

Volunteer matching is at the core of the Speakers Bureau. Requests for volunteers range from very broad to very specific, and we strive to match the right person with each opportunity. RAINN cross-references the details of the request with our secure database to find volunteers who best fit the opportunity. The database contains information provided by survivors, such as the nature of the crime they experienced, details about their personal life, how they managed different long- and short-term effects of sexual assault, and other aspects of surviving trauma. The database also includes demographic and geographic information for each volunteer.

What role does RAINN play in media inquiries?

If you are a member of the media, you can contact the RAINN Communications Manager with a specific interview request that includes your name and contact information, your organization, a brief description of the piece, your deadline, where you are located (and where you would like the survivor to be located, if applicable), and most importantly, any details that can help us match your request with the right survivor(s). Some of these details may include: age of the survivor, gender identity, type of sexual violence that the survivor experienced, and the geographic area where you are focused.

The Communications Manager will identify survivors that fit the specified criteria, reach out to them directly about the opportunity, and relay all communication between the survivor(s) and journalist leading up to the interview. When members of the Speakers Bureau participate in an interview, they are sharing their own experience and cannot make official statements or opinions on behalf of RAINN. Members of the media should review RAINN’s Tips for Interviewing Survivors prior to arranging an interview.

What role does RAINN play in requests for events and projects?

If you submit a request for a volunteer from the Speakers Bureau to support your event or project, the RAINN Communications Manager will email survivors who fit the specified criteria about the opportunity. The email will include the direct contact information for the event organizer.

From there, interested survivors will contact the organizer directly if they wish to participate. RAINN recommends submitting requests for volunteers at least 4 to 6 weeks before the event is scheduled to take place. We ask that organizers respond to all survivors who reach out, even after you have selected someone for your project or event. If you have any other questions during the process, you can contact RAINN for support.

Is there a cost?

There is no cost involved with requesting to interview or host a survivor. All members of the Speakers Bureau are volunteers who are interested in raising awareness about sexual violence. If your organization is able to offer an honorarium or pay for the cost of travel (if any), please coordinate with the survivor directly.

What relationship do Speakers Bureau volunteers have with RAINN?

The Speakers Bureau is comprised of volunteers who generously share their time and stories in order to raise awareness about sexual violence. They are not employees or spokespersons for RAINN, and they represent only their personal views or opinions. Members cannot offer quotes, endorsements, positions, or opinions on behalf of RAINN, and they cannot act as an agent of RAINN.

 

Information for survivors

Who can join?

Survivors of any type of sexual violence, assault, or abuse are welcome to apply to the Speakers Bureau. You must be over the age of 18 or provide the signature of a parent or legal guardian to be considered. The healing process looks different for all survivors. There is no “right” way to go about healing, but we do recommend that all applicants wait at least one year after experiencing sexual violence before they apply.

How does the application process work?

Download the application and fill out the form to the best of your ability. You can include a photo if you wish, but it is not mandatory. After you mail in your application, it will be reviewed by a staff member. This process can take up to six weeks. Your information will be kept in RAINN’s secure database, and it will never be shared without your specific permission. Once your information has been entered in the system, you will be included on email requests that pertain to your geographic area. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and there is never a “due date” or “deadline.”

What should I include in my application?

Please only answer the questions you feel comfortable discussing. There are no required fields and no word limits. The more information you are able to share in your application, the better we can match you to an appropriate event, project or interview. You are welcome to send a picture with your application, although it is not mandatory. All of the information in your application will be kept confidential and not shared without your specific permission.

Do I have to use my real name?

In short, no. On the application there is a place to note if you are using a pseudonym or applying anonymously. Alternatively, you can apply using your real name and choose to go by a pseudonym later. If you are not comfortable with a media outlet using your real name in an interview, it can usually be arranged for you to be quoted anonymously. If you choose to speak at a school or community event, in most cases you must allow the organizer to use your real name.

I’ve been accepted. What happens now?

When a request from the media or a local event organizer is received, RAINN’s Communications Manager will reach out directly to survivors who fit the criteria. The choice to volunteer for an opportunity is entirely yours. You can always say “no,” and you can change your mind if at any time you are uncomfortable. You do not need to respond to a request if you are not interested. If you haven’t heard from us in a while, it’s possible that there haven’t been any requests for a survivor in your geographic area lately, or there haven’t been any media requests that fit your profile. It’s also possible that our emails are getting caught in a spam filter, or that we have an outdated email address for you. Email speakersbureau@rainn.org with any contact info updates.

Once I’m a member, how do I talk about RAINN or being part of the Speakers Bureau?

You can talk about RAINN in terms of being a volunteer member of the Speakers Bureau. You are also welcome to identify yourself as a volunteer through social media platforms, as well as tag RAINN in your posts. Please note that you may not identify yourself as an employee of, or spokesperson for, RAINN. You cannot offer quotes, endorsements, positions, or opinions on behalf of RAINN or act as an agent of RAINN.

Will I be compensated for speaking events?

All opportunities through the Speakers Bureau, whether in your community or with the media, are volunteer opportunities. You should not expect to be compensated.

How will RAINN protect my information?

RAINN will never share any personally identifying information, including contact information, contained in your application with anyone outside of RAINN without your specific permission. RAINN uses the "BCC" function on emails — this means that your email address is not visible to anyone else on the list, in order to protect your privacy and confidentiality.

Will RAINN publicize or promote my project, such as a book, music, or film?

We encourage Speakers Bureau volunteers to share their projects on RAINN’s Facebook page, which is the best way to connect with others who are interested in sexual assault prevention. You are also welcome to share your work at any event that you attend if the host agrees. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to support each request for review, publicity or promotion. Rather than select some projects over others, our policy is not to endorse a particular volunteer’s project.