Victim Survivor Advisory Council

Victim Survivor Advisory Council

This all-volunteer group has been in existence since 1995. Victim Survivor Advisory Council (VSAC) is made up of women and men who identify themselves as a victim/survivor of sexual abuse or as the parent or partner of a victim/survivor of sexual abuse. However, not everyone identifies publicly as a victim. Everyone is able to contribute to the committee in his or her own way. Though we are not a support group, we are considered to be agents of change.

The Alliance represents victims/survivors on key policy and community issues. VSAC was created in order to provide an ongoing dialogue between victim/survivors and The Alliance on a multitude of topics. VSAC members work to end sexual violence by: reviewing literature produced by The Alliance to make sure it is victim/survivor sensitive, giving feedback to The Alliance about its proposed plans for services, reviewing public service announcements for television, giving television and newspaper interviews, speaking to community groups including schools and prisons, testifying at public hearings at the legislature, and writing letters to the editor for newspapers and magazines.

Email VSAC

In Their Own Words

When asked “what is sexual assault, in your own words?” members of VSAC described it as:

Sexual assault is wrong, unacceptable, violent, ugly, humiliating, painful, sickening, unforgivable, threatening, disgusting, costly, a reality, a crime that hurts the soul, a lifelong assault on the mind and body, worse than a nightmare, deeper than physical scars. Sexual assault is more common than you think, happening to someone you know, leaving millions silently screaming, stealing our childhood, touching every aspect of our lives, committed by “regular” people, perpetuated by silence, perpetuated by the media, costs more than money.

Sexual assault is not about sex, not the victim’s fault, not something that only happens to women, not for your entertainment, not easily forgotten, not something to joke about. Sexual assault is something you can change, something you can take a stand against, something you can prevent, something you can help end.

Once you have been sexually assaulted you may never look at life the same way, have relationships the same way, or trust people the same way. You may never feel safe again, feel completely clean, feel comfortable walking into a doctor’s office or hospital again, or feel confident walking alone. You may never believe your children are safe, believe that your body is yours, or believe that you can say no.

You may never be the same person that you were before the assault, but you are not alone. We believe you. We support you. We are here for you.

Working Together

Break the silence. Talk about it. Forget stereotypes. Understand affirmative consent. Believe that it happens. Educate your children. Listen to the experiences of survivors. Donate money to Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Promote the hotlines. Volunteer at your local sexual assault crisis program. Speak up when someone jokes about rape. Share your story with a friend, advocate, or family member. Confront sexism wherever you see it. Listen to your children. Recognize sexual abuse and violence as crime. Support a victim’s journey to becoming a survivor. Report suspected sexual abuse. Read about it in the news. Educate your friends, family, partners, and community. Ask your church to write a policy prohibiting sexual abuse. Help your school board provide education programs to teachers and students. Believe you can help. Know that one person can make a difference.

Realize that perpetrators can be nice people, the people you least expect, on your high school football team, a member of your local clergy, on your school board, someone you trust. Don’t turn your back on survivors and blame victims. Don’t get desensitized to gratuitous violence on television. Don’t pretend sexual violence doesn’t happen. Don’t minimize the trauma people experience because of sexual violence. Don’t reject a victim reaching out to you for help. Don’t call sexual assault consensual. Don’t let fear keep you silent.