Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When Someone Comes to You, What Will Your Reaction Be?

Whether we realize it or not, all of us know people whose lives have been impacted by sexual assault. As many as 1 in 6 women will experience rape in their lifetime, and as few as 16% of sexual assaults are reported to police (see CounterQuo for a full analysis of sexual assault stats). 

The way that we respond when a friend or family member tells us about sexual assault makes all the difference. The campaign Start by Believing offers guidance and advocacy to encourage our culture to stand with survivors of sexual assault and to always let survivors know, “This is not your fault.” Their website is filled with information for allies and law enforcement:

CAASE’s founder Rachel Durchslag, wrote the following reflection about supporting a friend who was sexually assaulted (TRIGGER WARNING):

When a friend experiences a sexual assault it as if the world turns gray. Sounds become almost muffled, and the heaviness one feels in their heart- crippling. When a friend experiences a sexual assault sadness invades the cells of one’s body, and tears linger constantly behind misting eyes. The friend is overwhelmed with the injustice of it all and left with a revolving door of “whys”- why people harm others for their own sense of power, why sexual assault is still tolerated (and sometimes encouraged), and why perpetrators mostly go free when the victim is left with mountains of emotional trauma. 

It is an unfair world when people rape. It is an unfair world when those we love are hurt. But it is the world in which we live. 

Within this overwhelming darkness still shines a light. It is the light that is the human capacity to heal. It is the light of amazing activists who dedicate their lives to making this world safer for us all. And it is the light of thousands of survivors and allies who turn hate into love, pain into forgiveness, and hurt into healing. 

For more information about CAASE's legal services for survivors of sexual assault, visit For more information about local resources for survivors, visit The local Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline number is 1-888-293-2080.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Renee Gets Ready to Race for CAASE

Renee Mehl has served on CAASE’s board of directors since 2009. She is an experienced runner and is co-chairing the Race for CAASE team. Here are some quick thoughts from Renee about running to end sexual exploitation. You can find her fundraising page and make a gift in honor of her race here.

CAASE: This is your second year helping to lead the team. What motivates you in your training?

Renee: I race because the Race for CAASE combines my two interests: charity and running. Joining CAASE has opened my eyes to the consequences of sexual harm and violence in our own backyard. CAASE is making real changes in trafficked persons' lives. I know the money we raise goes toward all of CAASE's initiatives, including policy reform, community outreach, and litigation.

CAASE: Have you run a half marathon before? 

Renee: I became hooked on running after my first half marathon in 2010. Right when I was feeling defeated and began thinking about walking, a stranger said, "You can do this, Renee!" (My name was on my race bib.) I thought to myself, "You can do this!" and started running again.  You truly never run alone when you are running for charity.  You are running for friends, family, donors, CAASE, and, in my case that day, strangers.