UW Combined Fund Drive

September 20, 2021

Supporting Sexual Assault Survivors

From left, U.S. gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman are sworn in to testify during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. SAUL LOEB / AP

On September 15, 2021, four women sat before congress and testified not only about the chronic sexual assault they endured but about the institutions that failed to protect them.

The testimony of these U.S. gymnasts continues to shine light on the pervasive issue of sexual assault.

Sexual assault affects everyone. According to the Department of Justice, in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds and the ramifications can last a lifetime impacting survivors and loved ones.

However, about 2 out of 3 sexual assaults go unreported. This can be the result of fear, belief that nothing will be done, or concern for the repercussions. Sexual assault cannot be overlooked and should always be taken seriously. Victim blaming should never be tolerated.

No Means No

In talking about sexual assault, it is always important to reiterate the requirement of consent in all sexual encounters. Consent must be clearly and freely communicated between the parties involved in all sexual activities and consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Supporting Loved Ones

While everyone’s experience and reaction to sexual assault is different, there are some practices that can help in supporting loved ones. It is important to believe what is being said and keep the space judgement free. This information should remain confidential unless otherwise indicated.

It is essential to be a good listener, acknowledging the courage it takes to come forward and allowing space to talk.

It may be helpful to offer options or information, always remembering it is your loved one who makes the final decision about next steps. Finally, remind the survivor that they are not alone and continue to offer support.

Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors at UW

The University of Washington provides a guide to sexual assault resources giving further information about services and support offered to the UW community:

Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors Off Campus

Other Ways to Help

Consider making a one-time gift or setting up monthly payroll deduction through the UWCFD to one of our member organizations actively working to prevent sexual violence and help survivors:

Sexual Violence Law Center (charity code 1482958): is a survivor-led nonprofit law firm that protects the privacy, safety and civil rights of survivors. Our advocacy is trauma-informed and based in race and gender equity principles.

Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress (charity code 0319580): provides 24/7 care for sexual assault and medical forensic consultation. Also offers therapy services and Foster Care Assessment Program (FCAP).

King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (charity code 0316249): serves survivors and their families throughout King County with a 24/7 hotline to offer support and provide information to aid in deciding next steps.

Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (charity code 0316138): provides community education, and advocacy on system and policy issues while empowering Deaf and Deafblind sexual assault survivors

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) (charity code 0316278): operates National Sexual Assault Hotline and DoD Safe Helpline as well as offering programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and bring justice to offenders.

End Violence Against Women (EVAW) International (charity code 1478206): educates responders to gender-based violence through trainings, consultation, developing resource material, education policymakers, and conducting research to strengthen the response of the criminal justice system and other professionals.

Contributed by UWCFD Campaign Assistant Kate Montebello
Kate Montebello is serving as one of the 2021 Combined Fund Drive Campaign Assistants. She graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Communications as well as a minor in both History and Peace & Justice.