Sexual Violence Spurs Nonprofit's Action
Jane Doe, Inc. Presents Stark Data On Sexual Harassment And Sexual Assults In Massachusetts
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey data for Massachusetts, nearly one in two women and one in four men in the Commonwealth have experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape. Nearly one in three women and one in five men in Massachusetts have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. These startling statistics are based on police reports that don’t account for immigrants, the GLBTQ community, and those who do not reach out to the police for help, meaning the numbers are even higher than those reported.
These devastating realities fuel the work of Jane Doe, Inc. (JDI), a statewide membership coalition and hopeful catalyst for change. As the only nonprofit advocacy organization dealing with sexual and domestic violence statewide, JDI advocates on behalf of victims and offers confidential, long-term support and services to tens of thousands of victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence each year.
With 60 members and 56 other state and U.S. territorial sexual and domestic violence coalitions, JDI works to create social change by addressing the causes of sexual and domestic violence and by promoting safety, justice, and healing. Additionally, they advocate for responsive public policy and strive to make an impact on public opinion.
To achieve these goals, JDI operates through two main tracks to prevent and respond to violence. On the practical side, JDI provides trainings, networking opportunities, and materials. They also organize campaigns and leadership on policy and systems change. On the conceptual level, they incubate ideas and frameworks to keep the movement alive.
On a daily basis, volunteers and employees at JDI collect and analyze data, identify trends, remain informed of new research and developments, and produce important recommendations for effective changes in areas of sexual assault and domestic violence.
“We’re often asked how we can imagine liberty, dignity, and justice when horrifying and heartbreaking, stories of sexual abuse, rape, stalking and domestic violence bombard us daily,” said Executive Director Mary R. Lauby. “The answer is found in the bravery and resilience of survivors and the compassion and dedication of advocates working in this arena.”
One of JDI’s most successful campaigns has been the Massachusetts White Ribbon Day. This event invites men and boys to speak on the first Thursday in March and be part of the solution in ending violence against women by redefining “manhood” and “masculinity.”
“At the department of public health, we measure the instances of domestic violence and sexual assault, and disturbingly, we’re still seeing significant number of cases across the Commonwealth,” said Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach. “And we know that the services we have in place are not sufficient to address the need. We need instead to do all we can to focus on prevention. Men need to speak out against violence against women and sexual assault against women and make the case that this is not acceptable.”
The event will take place this spring on Thursday, Mar. 7.
Events like White Ribbon Day are part of a larger international human rights effort. JDI members focus on preventing human rights violations and promoting social and political solutions.
JDI stresses the important role that everyone has to play to end this violence and offers many suggestions for ways in which people can help the cause. They urge people to help friends or family members who are being abused and help friends or family members who are the abusers. They also suggest making a contribution to the cause and donating needed items such as clothing, household items, books, games, food, holiday gifts and treats, computers, and office furniture. They suggest taking action by signing up for email alerts and becoming part of their statewide legislative response. Finally, they urge people to volunteer at events such as the White Ribbon Day or even create their own event to help raise funds that support JDI.
“Your support matters,” Lauby said. “It is critical to help us keep telling these stories, working for justice and leading a movement that is making a difference.”
With JDI’s victim-focused approach along with their extensive organizing, training, analysis, networking and advocacy, their members have promoted an ambitious social justice agenda to support the independence, human rights, and dignity of victims and survivors everywhere.
“This is the change that is possible when our work is advocate driven and informed by survivors,” Lauby said. “We are building safer communities, promoting healthy relationships, and preventing sexual and domestic violence.”