Unfortunately, sexual violence is terribly common. In fact, in the U.S., one in three women and one in four men will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline.) Despite its frequency, sexual violence is not often discussed, and its victims are often not believed, blamed, or silenced.
Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month?
This is where my story begins. Hello! My name is Hannah Hollander, and I am the Founder and Executive Director of an award-winning 501(c)3 nonprofit called Speak Your Truth Today (SYTT). SYTT began in February 2019 after a personal Facebook post of mine went slightly viral. I had opened up to my friends about the secret violent reality I had lived in for three years, and to my surprise, thousands of people related to what I wrote.
So, on a whim, I decided to make a private Facebook support group for domestic violence survivors, where we could share encouragement and resources while recovering from the abuse. Three years later, we now have over 18,000 members worldwide, more than 25 team members nationwide who volunteer weekly, and became an official 501(c)3 nonprofit. On average, we have helped three people leave an abusive relationship EVERY SINGLE WEEK since we began.
Our mission is to amplify the voices of victims and survivors of domestic violence because, as I mentioned earlier – too many of their voices have been silenced. One in three women and one in four men means that if you haven’t experienced sexual violence for yourself, your sibling, cousin, friend, or coworker will. Knowing what to say and how to help can be vital to their survival and healing. And creating space for the survivor’s voice and experience to be heard is what we’re all about.
Join Us for Denim Day
This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and we are inviting you to join in on our awareness campaign. One of the most prominent historical events in bringing awareness to sexual assault is Denim Day. If you’ve never heard of Denim Day, it is quite the story.
Denim Day began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped the perpetrator remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. Never mind that the rapist was a driving instructor who told the young woman to park in a secluded alleyway where he assaulted her.
The following day after the conviction was overturned, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Now on the last Wednesday in April (this year falling on the 27th), survivors and allies internationally wear denim to bring to light the realities of sexual assault and help bring awareness to the damages of victim-blaming in our societies. You can read more about this important day in history here – denimdayinfo.org/why-denim.
Unfortunately, at Speak Your Truth Today, so many of our members have (and will) dealt with this intense trauma. Many times, our support group was the first place survivors reached out to after their sexual assault. Here is a quote from one of our members who did so (shared anonymously with permission),
“I have overcome so much abuse in my life, where abuse has become the norm, and genuine love has become foreign and unheard of.
At times I wondered if I would ever get off of this abuse cycle and finally be happy. Because my life has genuinely felt like a movie. With one abusive, manipulative, or controlling act from someone after another. However, with no time to overcome the first event. Because the moment the first event happens, the second event occurs, and then the third abusive event, and so on. So, you’re simultaneously dealing with several abusive situations at the same time.
However, this group gave me the opportunity to say things that I didn’t feel comfortable or safe sharing in my own life or on my own social media, and also allowed me to see supportive messages from other members, explaining their stories and giving encouraging words. This community made me feel like I wasn’t alone. 💜💜”
At SYTT, education is one of our core beliefs. We strongly believe that by thoroughly educating our volunteers, we can be well-prepared and well-equipped to emotionally support and network essential resources for our members who have experienced the unimaginable. So, we are also trying to raise a total of $15,000 by Denim Day to certify our volunteers in Mandated Reporting, Suicide Gatekeeping, Trauma-Informed Care, and their state’s 40hr Domestic Violence Advocate Training.
Will you join us in solidarity with sexual assault survivors this month?
We invite you to join us throughout the month to help spread awareness about sexual assault. Like, comment, and share our posts and wear denim on Denim Day! (Wednesday, April 27th) Additionally, please consider helping us reach our fundraising goals by donating below. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support of sexual assault survivors!
SAAM Facebook Fundraiser – facebook.com/donate/1338497509983907/
Facebook Support Group – facebook.com/groups/speak.your.truth.today/
Facebook Page – facebook.com/speakyourtruth.np
Instagram – instagram.com/speakyourtruth.today
Website – speakyourtruth.today
LinkedIn – linkedin.com/company/speakyourtruthtoday