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Vote to Support Survivors of Sexual Assault

October 21, 2016

Sometimes, the work we do at ProSocial involves bringing broader attention to a worthy but woefully under-the-radar issue. Other times, we’re working to make a difference on an entrenched problem that’s already all over the news and on everyone’s mind. That was the case recently as we spent three and a half months working on the subject of sexual assault against the backdrop of Bill Cosby, Brock Turner, and Donald Trump making headlines for sexual offense charges.

Working with a client who was raped and now seeks to make a positive impact in this space, we reached out to experts at numerous organizations such as RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and It’s On Us (a White House initiative to end campus sexual assault), interviewed survivors of sexual violence and their friends and partners, and analyzed the resources available for sexual assault survivors so we could identify gaps in the system.

As we’ve seen in recent news, more and more people are coming forward to share their experiences with sexual assault and to take a stand against it. Just this month, President Obama signed the Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors, which makes it easier for rape victims to obtain medical evidence and for the evidence to be preserved at no cost to them until the statute of limitations for pressing charges expires.

But only a third of sexual assaults are reported to police, according to RAINN. Research suggests that many victims don’t report what happened because of cultural rape myths—they believe it was their fault or they should have done more to stop it. Those who do speak up often face scrutiny or are accused of lying, though recent research into 10 years of sexual assault cases found that in fact, law enforcement classified only 5.9 percent of them as false reports. A friend of our client’s admitted to not believing her at first and later deeply regretted not showing support initially.

Our client is now developing a digital tool that provides innovative support and resources to people who have experienced sexual assault, as well as their allies. Watch her video, read about her vision, and vote to help her win a grant to pilot this platform. (A “Vote Now!” button is below the video to the right, and social media sharing buttons are on the top right of the page.) Voting ends Tuesday, October 25, at 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central.