Did you see this?
There’s still time for you to tell the Department of Justice that prisoner rape survivors need victim services. But the deadline is next week, so make sure your voice is heard!
Back in 2009, Michelle was starting to lose hope. As a transgender woman in a men’s facility, Michelle endured years of sexual abuse by other inmates. She wanted to get help, but didn’t trust the staff – after all, they had utterly failed to keep her safe. “I was tired of feeling bad about being sexually assaulted,” she told JDI. “I was also desperate for outside contact.”
Michelle’s life changed when she met Linda. A rape crisis counselor, Linda has years of experience helping sexual abuse survivors heal from trauma and develop healthy skills to cope with painful feelings. During their confidential sessions, Michelle was able to talk openly with Linda about her trauma. She said, “Survivors need a place to go to be safe. The counseling provides that safety, and it means so, so much. It is what I have to hang on to.”
Today, Michelle teaches her fellow inmates about their right to be free from sexual abuse. She even helped start a peer education program at her prison.
Michelle’s story is inspiring – but it’s also incredibly rare. Of the countless inmates who are sexually abused, only a handful ever have the chance to meet with outside rape counselors.
One reason that so few survivors get services is a federal restriction on Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding. The restriction states that rape crisis centers cannot use these funds to help inmates – even if they are sexually abused in detention.
Fortunately, the Department of Justice has recommended lifting the VOCA restriction. The Department has asked for public comments on this proposed change. Right now, will you take a moment to show your support?
JDI has long been fighting to overturn this unnecessary ban. Finally, we’re on the verge of making it happen – but we need your help to finish the job.
Michelle is living proof that survivors can rebuild their lives – even after devastating abuse. But they shouldn’t have to do it alone. All sexual abuse survivors deserve the help and support that counselors like Linda can provide.