Buncombe County’s rape crisis and prevention center says it has seen a surge in calls before, during, and after last Thursday's hearing featuring Dr. Christine Ford. She testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee allegations that supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.
Angelica Wind is the executive director of Our Voice, which provides services and support to survivors of sexual violence in Buncombe County. She explains to BPR’s Matt Bush why Dr. Ford’s testimony is so triggering for survivors – leading to a surge of calls for help, not just locally but nationally.
Our VOICE operates a 24-hour crisis hotline. The number is 828-255-7576
Excerpts from interview with Angelica Wind -
On why Dr. Ford's testimony and appearance last Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee has been so triggering for survivors of sexual violence - "In the past we have been accustomed to having discussions about rape. But this is a conversation about sexual assault. There is a notion that sexual violence that isn't rape isn't traumatizing, or that the impacts aren't as serious as rape. What we do know is that (sexual assault) does have the ability to have the same impacts as a completed or attempted rape. We have had conversations (this week and last) with survivors who are recognizing for the first time what happened to them was a sexual assault. They themselves are now processing and recognizing that what they experienced and tried to minimize as normal behavior, or boys being boys or people being people...they know recognize that what they experienced was not okay. That leads to a recognition of the trauma they've been carrying, and they're processing it as though it was something that just recently happened."
On how survivors of sexual assault can deal with another week of the news cycle focusing on this story which might trigger them - "Survivors, first and foremost, we want to say that we believe you. It does not matter if it was something that happened when you were five, 17, 27, or 67. We believe you. You weren't to blame for what happened, and there are services available to you like Our VOICE. But more than that is you have the right to decide in terms of what you want in your life. And what it is that you need for your healing. And part of that could be turning off the radio, not engaging in social media, turning off the TV, and walking away from conversations where you think this might be coming up."
How people can avoid triggering survivors of sexual assault during this week when the Kavanaugh story dominates the news cycle - "One thing I would suggest as a community and a nation is to be very thoughtful about the conversations that you have in terms of what sexual violence is and isn't. And whether you (personally) would have done something different. The reality is sexual violence affects us all in a different way, whether we are a primary survivor or a secondary survivor (someone with a loved one who has been sexually assaulted). Be cautious about laying judgement on what a survivor did right or didn't do right. We have this notion that has been perpetuated for sometime to focus on the survivor and what it is that they did to contribute to their victimization, when in actuality the real conversation should be focused on what sexual violence is, what it looks like, and the perpetrator's role in that."