Over the past 3 years I have served as an online hotline volunteer staffer for Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN). RAINN offers an online chat forum for survivors and friends and family of survivors of sexual violence. I chose to volunteer for RAINN because it is recognized as a national leader in preventing sexual violence and providing and advocating for survivors. I am passionate about issues involving sexual violence and domestic abuse and felt that RAINN offered a comprehensive approach to prevent sexual violence and offer hope for survivors across the nation.
I developed a passion for issues of sexual violence and abuse because it is something that affects a large scale of people and is unaddressed too often. Sexual violence is something not taken seriously by authorities, help-services are not easily accessible for survivors, and it often goes unaddressed. Also, because it is labeled as a women’s issue, it creates a larger barrier for male survivors to find help.
A typical chat will last one and a half hours and the subject of conversation is about how the visitor is feeling and coping with the events that have happened in their life. Some visitors may suffer from PTSD, depression, self-harm, anxiety, sleeplessness, drug and alcohol addictions, and isolation from family and friends. Survivors of sexual violence are more likely to suffer from these mental health issues and addictions. Further, many people cannot find or afford therapy, and most rape crisis centers that offer counseling services are only free for eight weeks or a limited amount of time.
In conclusion, RAINN has taught me so much, not only about sexual violence, but about how human services are really working. I have learned a lot about what needs to be improved in our current system of health care and how terrifying it really is. However, RAINN offers so much hope that would not be there without such an amazing non-profit. I plan to continue working for RAINN and think about the ways I said I would like to improve the current system we have now.