In honor of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network) has released its Survivor Series in which seven survivors of sexual violence tell their stories.
The video series was released on Monday, the same week President Obama officially declared April to be National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. "We reaffirm our commitment to shift the attitudes that allow sexual assault to go unanswered and unpunished, and we redouble our efforts to prevent this human rights violation from happening in the first place," he said. He also emphasized the problem of victim-blaming, saying that, "we must stand up and speak out to change the culture that questions the actions of victims, rather than those of their attackers." And the RAINN Survivor Series does just that, serving as a reminder that there is no such thing as a perfect victim.
In the videos, the survivors don't just share their experiences -- they explain how doing so has alleviated the burden of sexual assault, as well as encourage other survivors to seek support.
"Every time I talk about it, it's like chipping away at the stone of me healing," one survivor, Julianna, said about sharing her story and reaching out to the RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline for support. Julianna turned to RAINN when she took her sexually abusive stepfather to court and received no support from her mother.
Ultimately, the videos -- while heart-wrenching -- send an empowering message about surviving sexual assault: you are not alone.
Watch the individual stories on RAINN's YouTube channel here.
Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN.