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10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years

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It seems impossible that we are celebrating Jane Doe No More’s 10th Anniversary in 2017.  It was my personal experience with sexual violence and revictimization that gave birth to our organization.  However, over the years, we have become a message of hope for so many and I have come to realize that the resilience in my desire to help myself and others has become my divine calling – God’s plan for my life.

I have come to know that we learn the most from our greatest challenges.  I have learned to honor the value of taking risks, staying true to my faith, finding the courage to face my fears, and embracing my failures.  I have even come to recognize that a painful memory, triggered by a sound, a smell or an image, serves to fuel my passion for staying strong in our mission to end the silence around sexual violence.

I’m sharing my “Top 10” in hopes they touch your heart in some way

  1. Sexual violence is the MOST misunderstood and under-reported crime in the world.
  2. Sexual violence is far more prevalent than I could have ever imagined.
  3. Hundreds of thousands of victims of sexual violence are suffering in silence at this moment, reaching them can save their lives.
  4. Sexual violence crimes happen everywhere regardless of race, religion, gender, geography or socio-economic status.
  5. We all have unconscious biases. Education is the answer.  It is imperative that we make everyone aware of the realities and the personal and societal cost of trauma.
  6. First responders play a crucial role. They are not just members of law enforcement, they are firefighters, EMTs, medical professionals, legal professionals, teachers, family and friends who are the first to learn of the assault.
  7. The desire to be heard, believed and reassured that it was not their fault is what a victim needs first, foremost and always. No more shame. No more blame. No more fear.
  8. Truth is powerful. For survivors, coming forward and sharing their story is healing and empowering. It provides an opportunity to take back control while reaching other victims and educating society. #voice2change
  9. While the trauma of sexual violence may never go away, you have a choice in how to move forward. I choose love. I choose hope. I choose to make a difference.
  10. In order to help ourselves and others, we must practice self-care and nurture our minds, bodies and souls.

As Jane Do No More celebrates this important year I am filled with gratitude for the hundreds of people that share my passion to make a difference. I hope you will join us at one of the many activities that advance prevention and serve to help us liberate victims and our society from the tragedies of sexual violence.


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New Beginnings 2015

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Wow, what a year! 2014 was transformational in so many ways. The conversation about sexual violence has never been stronger underscoring the importance of our mission. I have witnessed the aftermath and looked in the eyes of far too many victims in pain. I have also been blessed to witness their healing when they realize there is help and they are not alone. We are in the midst of a sea change; powerful perpetrators can no longer hide and victims are becoming strong survivors who will no longer be silenced.

I look forward with renewed passion to further these important breakthroughs in our life-changing work. I am mindful that we could never do what we do without your love and support. To my dear family, friends, volunteers and donors, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

May 2015 bring more understanding, less ignorance; more healing, less victim-blaming; more light, less darkness; more humanity, less silence, more joy and less fear.

Warmest wishes for a safe and happy new year.

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Erin's Law Passes in Connecticut

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Erin's Law passed in Connecticut on the last day of this legislative session. Erin Merryn was sexually abused as a child, beginning at age 6, first by a friend’s uncle, and a few years later by a family member she loved and trusted. Erin went from a strong, resilient, happy young child to an angry, hate-filled, self-destructive teenager and young adult. As a child Erin never learned about unsafe touch and was never taught to speak up and tell. She was threatened into silence by her perpetrator.

I had the privilege of meeting Erin in March when Jane Doe No More honored her with the Dr. Henry C. Lee Award. After years of suffering, self-doubt and shame, Erin reclaimed her voice and is now on a crusade to make sure every child has the ability to use their voice. Connecticut is the 14th state in the country to pass Erin’s Law.

Congratulations to Erin and everyone involved in getting Erin’s Law, CT Senate Bill 203 passed. You have a friend and ally in me and Jane Doe No More.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2014

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and a time for reflection. More and more survivors of sexual assault are stepping out of the shadows and relinquishing their ‘Jane Doe’ and ‘John Doe’ status. I vividly remember the day I came forward publicly on national television in a live interview with Meredith Vieira on April 27, 2007. It was a big step and one that I knew would change things forever, and I was ready. I had just launched Jane Doe No More, a charity born out of my personal experience and desire to improve the way society responds to victims of sexual assault.

Now, almost 7 years later, our mission is as important as ever. We are growing in strength and numbers and breaking the stigmas that permeate the rape culture of victim blaming and perpetrator entitlement. We are taking our power back and letting other victims know that they are not to blame, it is not their fault, and they are not alone. And there is much more to be done.

More and more survivors of sexual assault are revealing their names and letting their voices be heard. Some have taken to social media to tell their story, others, like myself, that have experienced re-victimization are coming forward and taking legal action in an effort to make things better for the future. Whether you are a survivor, family member, friend, or advocate, we invite you to participate in the many activities happening all month long. Check out our Jane Doe No More calendar and our Facebook page to learn more.

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Federal and Connecticut Action Regarding Rape and Sexual Assault

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Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action. That is the title of the report issued this month by the White House Council on Women and Girls.

The epidemic of rape and the associated culture of indifference, entitlement and misdirected blame of sexual assault victims remains ever-present in our society today. The good news is that more women and men have the courage to stand up and say NO MORE. It is time that we break the stigmas that surround this crime and hold the real perpetrators accountable.

Deeply troubling is the statistic in the report of a study that found that of the male college students who admitted to committing acts of rape or attempted rape, nearly 63% said they committed an average of six rapes each. Couple that with the study in 2010 by the Department of Justice that 95% of college rapes go unreported and everyone can see why a renewed call to action is urgent.

The time for action is now and Connecticut is responding. I was at a press conference yesterday in Hartford to support new legislation to expand our current law to align with the recently passed federal Campus SaVE Act (Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act) and require that all of our institutions of higher education commit the time and resources necessary to implement best practices in victim-centered response and prevention education and training.

Join Jane Doe No More as we work to improve the way society responds to victims of sexual assault through education, awareness, advocacy and support. And let your voice be heard; this Tuesday February 4, 2014 is ‘Time to Talk’ Day. Together we are making a difference.

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Positive Thoughts for a Fresh New Year

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What will 2014 bring? I am reminded of a great quote by Henry Ford; “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”  So much of what we set out to do is dependent upon our mindset.

I have seen too many people bring those around them down with their doom and gloom attitude and stories of woe. How refreshing it would be if before we spoke we thought for a moment about how it is going to make the other person feel, and chose to say only something that will lift the other person up.

Of course there will be times when we need to share bad news or have a healthy discussion about something we disagree on. But no matter how difficult the topic, we can always choose to think first and speak from a place of compassion and understanding. Can you imagine the progress that could be made!

I am starting the new year renewed, refreshed and ready to cherish each day and do all I can to make this world a better place. So in the bone-chilling days of January why not wrap yourself in positive thought and join me in spreading love and warmth. I think you can.

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Watch the 2 hour Dateline NBC show of Donna's story 'The Man Behind the Mask' at msnbc.com.

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Jane Doe No More, Inc.
203 Church Street Rear
Naugatuck, CT 06770

Phone: 203-729-0245

Email: info@janedoenomore.org

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