March 16, 2006

 

Survivor Aid for Rape & Abuse Awareness

The story of Teri Hatcher coming out about her childhood sexual abuse has really got me thinking. The last paragraph of my last post says, "Let's blow this thing wide open, once and for all. Let's lose the stigma and shame..." What I'm talking about is awareness. Awareness and acceptance is what we need for the millions of survivors of child abuse, rape and child sexual abuse.

But, it's something we still don't talk about much. This heinous abuse of other human beings--of children--is something we turn away from and pretend doesn't happen. Yet, it's happening all around us. No one is immune. Girls, boys, men and women--even babies--are being molested, raped, beaten and battered, often in their own homes.

I want to stop thinking about it and start some action! Yeah, let's blow this thing wide open. Why can't we? What I want is something huge, that nobody can deny. I want a Farm Aid-type concert. Let's get some more celebrities involved in this. Let's get Tori Amos, Carlos Santana, Axl Rose and Mary J. Blige to play and sing their hearts out for their fellow survivors.

Do you know, back in 1985, the first Farm Aid concert raised over $7 million? Let's raise more than that for abuse and assault awareness, prevention and intervention. Let's combine our Farm Aid-type concert with a film festival. We can get Angela Shelton to come as we show Searching for Angela Shelton. What about Celesta Davis' Awful Normal and Ethan Delavan's Stories of Silence? Maybe Lifetime Television would release For the Love of a Child for us.

What else can we incorporate for this mega awareness aid event? I'd like to see an event that's like Farm Aid, The Sundance Film Festival, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, The AIDS Memorial Quilt and a huge awareness exhibit "trade" show all rolled into one.

We could probably get some survivor art projects like
The Clothesline Project, "The Show of Hands" and Nobuko's photo project, "The Faces of Rape and Sexual Abuse Survivors" to join in. A summer, month-long event in West Virginia, called "Healing Through Creativity" is already planned to combine workshops, readings, performances and art exhibits for survivor awareness. But, why not get some famous celebrities and performers to help out?

How 'bout a poetry reading by Maya Angelou? Athletes like Laveraneus Coles and Chris Witty (Olympic speedskater) could lend a hand. Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, Marilyn VanDerbur (former Miss America) and Oprah Winfrey could lend their famous faces and names. Can you imagine the money and awareness we could raise if Oprah got involved? And why not Teri Hatcher herself?

Maybe we could have performances by actor/writer Martin Moran (The Tricky Part) and Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues). Naturally, for the art exhibit entity, we'd need some works of art. Does anyone know any famous artists who are also abuse/assault survivors? Of course, we would ask for entries from any and all survivors. My main thrust, however, is celebrities, famous people, recognizable faces who can really put a face on this epidemic and dispel the stigma. The goal is to really get people talking about it.

Any ideas on where the funding should go? The first three organizations that came to my mind are: Childhelp USA,
www.childhelpusa.org, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), www.rainn.org, and Equality Now, www.equalitynow.org. But, I don't want this to be a women's issue. If there's an area that surely needs more awareness, it's the issue of male survivors of sexual abuse and assault. Does anyone out there have a good candidate for an organization that's helping male survivors? Leave a comment and let me know.

Also leave me a comment to add to the list of famous (living, of course) celebrities, athletes and performers who are survivors of rape, child abuse and child sexual abuse. And if you know of any movers and shakers who you'd consider "friends" or supporters of survivors, let me know who they are as well. I've thought of Andrew Vachss. You can view his site
here. I've also thought of Meryl Streep and Marisa Tomei (Equality Now spokeswomen) and Teri Polo and Peri Gilpin who played Childhelp USA co-founders in the Lifetime movie, For the Love of a Child. Any other ideas? How 'bout more ideas for worthy survivor causes?

You say I'm a dreamer? I'm not the only one, am I?

Leave your ideas, inspirations and insights on a comment. Let's get this list going! By the way, does anyone know any influential folks who could help us get such a dream started toward reality? I've met Angela Shelton and Marilyn VanDerbur. Angela's pretty busy touring with her movie. Hmm, I don't know. Anybody know anyone who'd really get passionate about this? Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts
.

Comments:
Marj - I have been thinking about doing the same kind of thing FOREVER. Even started to put together something similar as a philanthropy event for my sorority back in college... and have successfully planned & implemented a free local carnival for abused children & battered women. I am having such a hard time these days that I can't shake this feeling that I HAVE to do something like this in order to feel like I am living a life again. PLEASE KEEP ME POSTED... I DEFINATELY WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS. I have easy access to the rich & famous - live in their neighborhoods & see them all the time. I can help with this...

You and my heart must have had a little talk...
 
Missing Link: thanks for the commitment of support. I'm glad our hearts are in the same place. Who do you know there where you live? Any of those rich and famous survivors themselves? Any supporters you see among them? Would you list some here? Thanks, Marj
 
This is just a test to see if non-bloggers can leave a comment.
 
Fabulous idea!!!!
If you can see it, you can do it.
 
Hi Marj,
I am the first to speak out publicly in Canada. I am interested in the education awareness as you know! I am in, if you need any help with any project let me know, survivor, loving, healing, living!!http://fightforjustice.blogspot.com
http://fighttostopviolence.blogspot.co
 
As an idea for a place to receive the money (or even "some money")...how about some kind of scholarship type fund for people who fall through the cracks and can't get therapy? In my county, if you are on medi-cal (medicaid), private therapists can not see you, only clinics can contract with medi-cal...the only clinic is county mental health which only has substance abuse programs and acute illness programs. So if you are a dissociative, adult survivor who is not an addict or schizophrenic...you can't get treatment.

Sera
 
None of them are survivors themselvs, but that's only my assumption. They could know a survivor or few. Can't really list names b/c I don't know everyone I could get just yet. But I can start to get the word out to producers, writers, directors that I know. I have built great relationships w/this type of clientele from my old job. Know of a big time music producer who worked above me, too... he could help tap into the music industry - that would be incredible, too. For my sorority gig, I did a lot of research & was able to pretty much reach any celebrity I wanted to target... just had to make some calls. Publicity is a snap for me... started doing radio, newspaper, advertising back in high school - so it would be easy for me to start to get the word out about who is willing to help. Where there is a will, there is a way...

Fiona Apple is one to keep in mind though. Her music is incredible and she was raped as a young girl.

Am I being too eager??! I don't know - just want you to know that I know I can get a lot of support from many influential people...
 
Holly--Thanks for your support! Your work is AWESOME and any help you can lend is greatly appreciated!

Fallen Angels--I LOVE your idea! My husband has paid mucho bucks in cash for my recovery treatment because we could no longer find an insurance company to cover my mental health because I was working hard & getting the help I needed. Another dream--creating a retreat center for survivors (that's affordable!) in a peaceful setting where they can decompress from nightmares/flashbacks and do trauma processing in a supportive environment that is NOT like an inpatient/hospital setting.

Missing Link--Are you too eager? NO WAY! This kind of enthusiasm is what we NEED! Thanks! Start sending out feelers to anyone you can thinkk of. Thanks for the Fiona Apple idea. I had thought of her but neglected to put her on my initial list.

LET'S KEEP THIS LIST GROWING! Thanks, all!
 
OH - I LOVE the RETREAT CENTER idea. So weird that you mentioned it b/c since I have hit this really rough, dark patch w/the flashbacks & nightly nightmares, I have been wishing (especially this last week) that there was someplace I could just go hide for a month or two... or however long I needed. Not a mental instituation by any means, just someplace to go to get away from the outside world to really give myself the time and space to deal w/all the shit that has happened... w/out the distractions of day-to-day living. Does that make sense?

I can't believe you mentioned this... I think this is an incredible and invaluable idea.

I am so glad we are on the same page... I'll start to get the word out...
 
Hi, Annaleigh here of As Waters Passing By. This is an excellent idea, and perhaps we can celebs such as Fiona Apple (had to second Missing Link's mention of her), Henry Rollins, and Queen Latifah. I believe Queen Latifah has performed at the Vagina Monologues, so she may be open to this kind of thing.
 
I want to be a part of this!!! Maybe you can make 'Voices of Strength' the new Survivor sudio documentary a vital part of this as well. You know I would definately be there to represent this Aid!

Love, Haullie
 
Missing Link--I DEFINITELY know how you feel about the retreat center. Been there for sure, I guess that's how I thought of it. BIG NEED! I'm glad we're on the same page. Thanks for starting to get the word out. WHOOO HOOO! I'm really getting PSYCHED about this!

Haullie--I would definitely like to include your survivor CD project in something like this. Keep me informed as it comes along in production! And, thanks!

Annaleigh--Oooo! Really like the Vagina Monologues idea w/Queen Latifah! Thanks for the other names as well.

Is this idea getting really exciting, or is it just me?
 
Hi there,
Thanks for leaving the comment on my blog. I have passed it on to the organisers of Healing through Creativity for them to look at.

I wanted to post about the "can't get therapy" idea.

For me as a survivor, therapy has enabled me to see what has happened and to be able to deal with all the issues that comes with being a survivor. Where I am, therapy can be sought for free - but to a "limit". When I speak to survivors in America, the cost of therapy seems high and out of reach for some in desperate need.

The Aid concert could provide for sessions for those in need. I really hope that this idea gets off the ground to create awareness and to help resolve the issue of "stigma" in society which radically needs changing.

Whitedove.
 
Nope, not just you... it's getting pretty damn exciting.

All of this is helping me NOT reach for another bottle of pills to end it all...

PHEW :)

Saved by the Blog...
 
Also, the lady from Law & Order-Markiska something-has an organization she started where she takes a trip w/a group of survivors. She's one to keep in mind.

Do you have a location in mind?

Okay. I have kept tons of people and connections in the back of my mind for the last few years as I've been trying to figure out how to do something like this, too. Let me break it all down for you:

I live in Santa Barbara, CA. LOTS of rich & famous vacation & live here. Some old clients include Carol Burnett, Jonathan Winters (he would LOVE to help... I adore him...he would do anything to help me with this). I also have had great talks w/Joyce DeWitt from Three's Company... she would do anything to help me, I am sure. And Sipowitz from NYPD Blue is also a customer of my old job. (Can't remember his real name for some lame reason.)

Michael Keaton, Jimmy Smits, Michael Douglas, Rachel Hunter, Kathy Ireland... they are all in my neighborhood.

I frequent LA. I have TONS of friends there, of course many have connections. I have partied w/members of MTV's Real World crew (getting MTV on board would be HUGE) and a few of them are neighbors of a really good friend of mine. This same friend is also an entertainment lawyer in a big Hollywood law firm so he knows tons of entertainment people, too.

My ex-boyfriend is a screenwriter. I will definately ask him for whatever help he can offer. He will do whatever he can to help me with this. And he, of course, knows lots of Hollywood folks.

I will talk to the music producer I worked near, too. He has an office in Santa Barbara and one in Hollywood.

One of my best friends works for Miramax. Another friend is a Hollywood Publicist's assitant. Another best friend works for Warner-Chappell, the huge music producing firm.... she has lots of connections in the music industry.

Also, another best friend knows a soap star (her boyfriend-fiance is best friends w/him). This soap stud has a million connections in Vegas, New York & California - all of the big hot spots.

I will DEFINATELY start working on the celebrity factor and gettinng people on board. Most important is to get people on board, right? The details will come later...

Just wanted to let you know I am so glad we are doing this. I KNOW we can make this happen... (I feel like a kid in a candy store again!)

Also, refer back to my post from the start of March, "Cheers." I am still continuing that work, too, and when I submit my letters, I will include news of this, too.

OH, almost forgot this one - I know of a newscaster in San Diego... she can also help get the word out and even cover this to blow it open. And I know of a newscaster who just relocated from LA to New York!

:)
 
i wish you luck on all of this :)
 
Whitedove--Thanks for the comment & looking into a possible "Healing Through Creativity" connection. You're right about the goals. I'm coming to think of them as "The Three A's:" Awareness, Acceptance (lose the stigma!) and Aid ($), of course, for survivors.

Missingl Link--Yep, get people on board--famous survivors and survivor supporters. Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order would be a perfect supporter with her Joyful Heart Foundation. I guess she's having a baby any time now tho, so we'll see. As for location--the first Farm Aid that raised over $7mil/80,000 fans was in Champaign, IL (central IL farmland/U of I). Maybe location isn't key. But, if we go with NY or LA we'd have an even larger population base (obviously) and it'd be closer to where celebs already are. (Glad this is helping you feel better!)

Jumping in Puddles--Thanks!
 
What an incredible idea this is! I'm also in Canada, but will do anything I can to help out and support...

Lots of cool ideas here.. good work guys!
 
Hi Marj, and this is just how I was feeling when I started the Show of Hands project. I feel like we have to get attention and make people look at the problem. I love your passion and am with you all the way. The retreat home sounds heavenly, perhaps it could be a working art center as well where people can come to heal and, if they wish express themselves visually. The work could be exhibited and sold to help support the center.
I am all about helping spend the money with my ideas but to help raise the money it sounds like missing link has some good contacts.
I think becoming visable in society is very important, perhaps starting a nonprofit organization, commited to the informing of the public. I would love to see billboards of famous people and not famous people along the roads that say things like I was sexually abused from age 7 to 13 and I was afraid to tell anyone so I'm speaking out now so you might find the courage. This is simular to a post card project that I hope to do this summer. I plan to send a post card to each house in the town I was abused in, luckily it was a small town in Kansas so I might be able to afford it. The message I want everyone to get is tell--if it's been a day or 45 years, tell, there are no more secrets.
I love this and will give alot of thought to how I can be helpful I love survivors, once we begin to heal we draw courage and strength from our wounds.
 
Hi Marj,
One way to start is with the newspapers by getting a story done. The reporter could talk to us (we all over the place) then everyone who has a blog, puts the story in about the project.
That will help with the fact we are all over the place, it will unite us more internationally on the same issues.
If you only consider United States, we are missing many survivors.
I would think many newspapers may post something in a community news. I also think many would be interested in the story.
We could work from that angle, along with the blogs, websites. Reach alot more survivors.
We need team leaders in all the areas anyway for this to work. Let me know what you think?
Take care Holly
 
I don't feel shame for what happened to me, but I am afraid that if I divulge the secret my uncle and I share (and maybe he has forgotten about what he did), it will destroy my family. I believe they are the ones who will feel the shame, and I don't want to hurt them.

But I wuold love to help out in any way that I can. I don't have any Hollywood connections but I have passion for the cause. I will keep watching your site for updates.
 
Survivor--Thanks for your interest and offer of help and support. (See my note to Holly below about Canada.)

Jodi--Incorporating art into the retreat center idea is a good thought. Maybe there would also be yoga, music, etc. I love the billboards idea. I worked in advertising in Chicago for years--I could really visualize this. And the postcard project reminds me of the "postsecret" blogspot. I'm thinking of incorporating something like that into the art side of Survivor Aid.

Holly--You ARE prolific! What an idea generator you are. Thanks! You're right, we should include Canada. I guess any country that has a fan base for some of the famous survivors, no? Does anyone know any famous Canadian survivors? I like the area leader logistic and am widening my net to get as many people on board to help organize as possible. Of course, we must have publicity in the traditional media. I guess I kinda figured if we could get something HUGE going with big names, the reporters would come to us. But, it works the other way, too, I know.
Carolina Introvert--Yes, please check back. There's plenty to be done, even anonymously.
 
OH, I can't believe we are actually doing this, Marj. I have known since the VERY MOMENT I was raped that I would somehow, someway, do something big to raise awareness. And since then, I have been secretly keeping notes and contacts and the like aside for whenever I was fully healed to really do this. I am so beside myself that I am not alone in this incredible quest and dream of mine... we are actually making this happen.

My heart is overjoyed, Marj. I was thinking along the same lines as Holly, too... that because survivors are EVERYWHERE, we need to put this everywhere.

I have family in London, friends in Australia, and have connections in Hawaii, Spain, the Phillipines, Canada... and who knows where else. Damn... I can't believe how big I can help make this. This is absolutely incredible. I am speechless.

I'm going to LA tomorrow night to visit w/my best friend. First and foremost, I will talk to my best friend to help get in contact w/more people - her dad knows TONS of big rig types... I will also start to talk to my news reporter friends to see what they can do to start advertising. After that, I will contact my connnections in the above mentioned international spots to get the word out there.

Oh Marj, I am SOOOO grateful you are so dedicated and into a cause like this as I am. And I am so glad I have not given up on this idea for so long because just look at what we're about to make happen here!!!!!

We deserve this.

Much Love to You All!
xo,
ML
 
Hi Marj,
We have too chat soon, I email some names and other information. If people are interested we should start getting information about where they live and the area of interest. It can be done confidentially but you need to know the time they can commit. Also if supports are in place for the volunteers. It may bring back memories for someone, if in treatment/court maybe it is something to discuss with a professional. So all the needs of the volunteers are supported with great people who care about the project, making this event go forward. Making a plan and location for the planning is important if you have other countries involved. Resources and grant money may be available also if the project has to be incorporated under a name and company. Lots of stuff, legal, etc. but with all the spirit and determined women aboard it will be happening very quick it you get my drift. God Bless everyone who can see our dreams be a real life experience with a postive outcome.
 
Dear Carolina,
Many feel the way you do, your not alone, Marj and the others will make sure we know that many will not want people to know about certain experiences. But your voice and help is important. It can be used for emailing others, checking emails, setting up information for the group leaders. And alot of it can be done confidentially by the network of the internet. We can have women email donations, and ideas also if not posted in comments. I am sure you will see a project like this takes many people with so many different ideas, voices, you will see it is important and you will be able to help in so many ways! All the best, living, learning, surviving, loving! Take care
 
Missing Link--Tried to post a comment back to you earlier, but Blogger was clogged I guess. Good luck in LA--you go girl!

Holly--I know a woman who's a grant writing consultant. Maybe she can help us. I'll be talking to you as soon as I get my thoughts together. Again, Thanks!
 
I am looking for a document that highlights all the famous people who have spoken out about their abuse history. I am a therapist who works with children and teens who have experienced sexual abuse. If you have anything already compiled that I can share with my kids, please email me at erinoreillylcsw@gmail.com. Thank you!
 
Erin: Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately, I realized that I just really didn't have the energy to start up a nonprofit to follow this "Survivor Aid" idea. I know some folks have lists on their blogs, but I don't really know of anything very official. Good luck with your quest...and with helping your clients to heal.
 
This is such a good idea! I have been wanting to do the same thing for a long time! I have a website and a myspace dedicated to helping survivors [of both sexes]. The website is avoiceforheather.tripod.com and the myspace is myspace.com/avoiceforheather. The organization is called RISE [Rape Incest & Suicide Education]. I will link to this from those sites if that's okay! Oh, and I'm a non-blogger BTW ;] Keep up the good work, and keep rising! =]

<3 Ragdoll Mender
Founder/President
RISE
 
Missmender: Thanks for your comment and the links. I really enjoyed looking around at your site and your MySpace blog (unfortunately, I'm not a MySpacer, so I couldn't comment). You gave me LOTS of great ideas for updating my resource links on my dot com site. Too bad I'm having computer problems right now. My site builder software is in limbo. but, you've definitely motivated me to do it...so when the computer's fixed. Thanks! :)
 
Very good idea I hope soe day it can be realised.
 
Roux: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on this old post. Wow! It's been a while since I wrote this--almost five years! I hope, some day, that something powerful like this will be realized, too.
 
Hi, I know it's been a while, but I noticed you said you didn't have a Myspace and couldn't interact with RISE. Well, since then, we have moved to Facebook [facebook.com/avoiceforheather] and we are also on Twitter [twitter.com/voiceforheather] and we do have a blog now, at avoiceforheather.blogspot.com. Just wanted to update. Hope you are doing well!

-Kylie/RM
Founder/President
RISE
 
Kylie: Thanks for the update. I will check out those new, accessible, resources when I get a chance. I wish you much success with these endeavors.
 
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