Eighteen-year-old Grace Watkins didn’t think she’d be subjected to further pain and humiliation soon after she was raped by a Notre Dame athlete while his friends filmed the violent attack.
But that’s exactly what happened when she found herself at a nearby hospital, one without a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner on staff, and where — cut up and with tissue damage — she was told by nurses that her rape wasn’t really a rape. To add insult to injury, hospital officials informed Grace she’d have to pay thousands of dollars for her rape kit, something she could not afford and a violation of Indiana law.
“I came to understand that this is what it feels like to have your rights denied,” Grace wrote. “Injustice is not just bad rules, it is a collection of deeply painful lived experiences.”
Grace is one of dozens of survivors with the #RiseUp movement — which has utilized almost of all of the tools for social change on our platform — who has started a petition. It is also the story of 25 million Americans — including actress Abigail Breslin, who came forward last week to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month and break her silence — and many more sexual assault survivors around the world.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month has its roots in a movement that is more than 40 years old. It began with Take Back the Night marches in England that spread to San Francisco and New York in the 1970s. It has since evolved into a month-long commemoration of how much progress has been made interrogating rape culture globally and how much is left to be done.
Here are five petitions and movements you can sign, join and promote in April at Change.org to support the brave survivors of sexual assault who continue to advocate for themselves and others around the world:
Although Grace’s life was changed forever like that of millions of sexual assault survivors, in her words, “I continue to fight because I can’t abandon these problems now that I know they are there.” This month and every month, Change.org remains an open platform for those of us who continue to work end injustice wherever and whenever we can.