April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and because of this we chose the Rape Crisis Center (RCC) of Dane County as our Organization of the Month. We will be donating 1% of our April sales to RCC to support the important work are doing in Dane County. This incredible organization does so much to provide resources to victims of sexual assault, as well as resources for their family and friends. Spreading awareness about sexual assault is critical and April has been filled with community events and fundraisers to do just that.
According to their website, RCC has been in Dane County since 1973 and “provides services to the survivors (and their family and friends) of all forms of sexual violence, including recent sexual assault, past sexual assault, incest, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation.” But after sitting down to chat with two leaders from within the organization, we realized this is just the beginning of what RCC is facilitating in our community.
How is RCC working to make services accessible to all people in Dane County?
If you look at the RCC website, a striking feature is the access that comes with hosting a completely Spanish version of the website. Having this information available in Spanish is a critical piece to furthering access in our community. Additionally, RCC is spearheading brand new initiatives to increase access for African American women in Dane County; these projects include a book club and movie nights to encourage conversation about sexual assault.
What is something the community may not know about RCC?
The sheer number of programs RCC has and the amount of community outreach that RCC does is incredible and something that most may not know about.. From their 24-hour helpline to the outreach that happens within high schools every day, the chimera self defense courses and Safer Bar certification, RCC is infiltrating numerous avenues to spread their message and support of those impacted by rape and sexual assault.
What presence does RCC have in Dane County schools and why is this important?
With the normalization of sexual assault in society at large, RCC is working to eliminate stigma and victim blaming, breaking the myths that start early in life. They believe that this cultural shift needs to happen through education, and that education can and should start in schools. They have counselors available in high schools to facilitate change and work with students that need sexual assault resources. They also challenge policies such as dress codes that perpetuate a societal belief that the way that girls/women dress sexually provokes and distracts boys/men that can’t constrain themselves. The Game Changers program is another incredible movement promoting education in high schools. Check out this snazzy PSA about consent written and produced by high schoolers!
What presence does RCC have on college campuses in Madison?
Sexual assault is embedded in society and on college campuses specifically, which is why RCC is putting forth every effort to be present in the spaces where students need them most. In addition to affiliations and a campus office at UW Madison, RCC now has offices at Edgewood and Madison College as well. These offices have counselors and services that help student victims through what they are experiencing regarding rape and/or sexual assault and specialize in services specific to what college students experience. An example of this is having an advocate that will ensure the victim does not have to be in a classroom with their perpetrator, as well as having a counselor available for the victim at the hospital to help the student navigate decision making processes.
Where does prevention fit into the equation?
Because of the ongoing and current climate in regards to sexual assault and rape culture, much of what RCC does is reactionary. But prevention is an ever-increasing part of the dialogue and action as RCC is trying to also focus on prevention through education in schools and beyond. This includes classes, conversations, and general advocacy to get the word out about sexual assault. Have you seen these impactful billboards around the city? The hope and goal is that one day prevention will be the solution rather than a part of the solution.
What is Bystander Intervention and Training?
Bystander Intervention Training is educational programming that equips people to stand up and stand in, teaching how to respond to physical and verbal violence and in turn try to stop an attack.” There are several opportunities for this training through RCC including various chimera classes for different identities and Safer Bar Bystander Intervention for bar staff. These critical intervention classes pave the way for greater awareness and education within our community.
Apart from the suggestions on your website, what can people do on an individual or company level to support RCC?
Participating in events that spread awareness and raise money for sexual assault services. Challenge rape culture and the normalization of sexual assault. Train to become a helpline counselor. Participate in chimera classes to protect yourself and others. Check out the RCC website for more ideas about how you can get involved.