Gainesville Woman Launches $22,000 Rape Victim Support Campaign
Gainesville community member Gretchen Casey is launching a campaign that will support rape victims all over the world.
Casey, a victim advocate with 30 years of advocacy experience, created the UnShame Campaign to address the shame that many rape victims experience after sexual assault. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in the US with only 63 percent of rapes reported to the police. Violence Against Women reported only about 25 percent of victims who report their attacks seek mental health services after an assault.
Recent research by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) has linked multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of health risks back to untreated trauma. Common increased risks among victims were alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide attempt, smoking, poor self-rated health, high numbers of sexual intercourse partners, sexually transmitted disease, and increase in physical inactivity and severe obesity.
Casey believes one of the biggest reasons victims don’t seek counseling is because of the shame they experience during or following a sexual assault– whether the shame is internalized or directed at them by others. She believes that people also aren’t aware of the resources available to them.
“We want people to address shame and move beyond it. Live beyond it. Live well beyond it,” she said.
The goal for UnShame is to reach the unreachable. Casey hopes to not only help local victims alleviate their shame, but also to reach cultures and communities around the globe who may not have free, local rape crisis services. In today’s digital world, she believes the best way to accomplish this is through an online platform. Casey said UnShame is not meant to replace crisis centers or victims’ services but rather to catch the attention of victims who may have never sought out help otherwise. Ultimately Gretchen would like UnShame to partner with psychotherapists, counselors and advocates to provide the best services and resources available.
The UnShame platform will allow victims who have experienced shame to submit their success stories in a blog feed, anonymously or not. Victims will be able to read the feed for inspiration to work through their own hardships. Additionally, supporters will be able to post words of comfort, encouragement and compassion that victims can access to help them through their healing journey.
A limited version of the online application has launched and is fully functioning as of April 1, 2015. The $22,000 will cover the cost of the build, making the site permanent and the promotion of the application. So far the campaign has only raised about $2,000, but Gretchen is confident that they will get there – one way or another. The campaign itself is entirely voluntary, with no funding for personnel costs or expenses. However, Casey is devoted to the UnShame campaign.
“If there is a generous benefactor out there, obviously that would be amazing,” she said, “but if I have to take up a second job on weekends and wait tables, then it’s worth it, to me,” she said.
To support the cause, visit http://www.gofundme.com/UnShame or connect with UnShame on Facebook, Twitter (@EraseTheShame), or Pinterest.