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It’s time to talk and to listen – by Sally J. Laskey, National Sexual Violence Resource Center


We are pleased to present posts by StoryCenter staff, storytellers, colleagues from partnering organizations, and thought leaders in Storywork and related fields.

It’s time to talk and to listen – by Sally J. Laskey, National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Ary Smith

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the U.S. I remember a time when Sexual Assault Awareness Month was mostly about talking for me. As a social justice activist trying to end sexual violence, there certainly has been a lot to talk about. I can still feel the vibrations from the first Speak Out against rape that I ever attended. Indeed, it moved me to continue to tell stories of resilience and resistance. I believe stories have power. Sharing them promotes healing. 

My work at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and collaboration with the Center for Digital Storytelling has also shown me that we need to innovate in order to create safe spaces for storytelling. At the center of this, for me, is a keen understanding of trauma and a burning desire to make listening to survivors a revolutionary act. 

When I am working with a community to develop a sexual assault response team or evaluating the effectiveness of a prevention program, listening to community members is critical. I am always looking for tools that can help me listen better and the NSVRC has been happy to help distribute over 100 of the Silence Speaks DVDs to those working to build gender equality and human rights. From New Jersey to Washington state, educators are using this training tool to help people listen better to each other. From Guam to Tennessee, survivors of sexual violence are finding more community through this resource. People in Minnesota, Michigan, and Maryland are cutting through harmful media messages to create their own media that is healing with the guidance of this DVD.  

It is time to talk about sexual violence and it’s time to really listen to the stories of sexual assault survivors. Whether you are looking for a first step to take to start the conversation in your community or you want to new strategy for powerful storytelling, the Silence Speaks DVD is a useful tool. If you want to learn more about digital storytelling, register now for a free webinar on the Role of Narrative in Public Health. To learn more about SAAM, follow our SAAM Blog.