Offer a message of comfort to prison rape survivors this holiday season.
Trigger warning for rape.
Just Detention International is one of my favorite charities. They work to end prison rape in the United States and around the globe through education, political lobbying, and working with survivors. This holiday season, they have a very special initiative: Words of Hope, where you can send a personal message to a survivor of sexual abuse in prison.
Prison rape is far from rare. In the United States, more than 200,000 people are sexually abused in prison every year, many of them multiple times. The prisoners who are sexually abused are likely to be the weakest, most marginalized, and most vulnerable: the queer, young, not physically strong, feminine, and perpetrators of minor crimes. Sexual assault in prison can lead to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, physical injuries, and PTSD and other mental conditions. All too often, prison officials ignore rape by prisoners and guards in their prisons; all too often, society outside considers prison rape a joke or just part of the punishment.
But we have the ability to not turn our eyes away, to offer a hand of comfort to survivors over the holiday season. Most people may ignore the survivors of sexual abuse in prison; let us not join their number.
Just Detention International’s goal is 10,000 messages. 10,000, for the more than 200,000 people raped in American prisons every year? I say we can fucking beat that.
The message must be less than 140 characters, less than a Tweet. It will only take a few seconds of your time. Please write a message of holiday hope to a survivor here.
Photo credit– katerha/Flickr. A barbed-wire fence.