An assailant robbed and raped Bridget Kelly of Killeen, Texas in 2002, shooting her and leaving her for dead. She survived, and the man was convicted. Last year, reports Women’s eNews, Kelly was telling her story to the Texas public in statewide TV and radio ads. To increase public awareness about sexual assault, she took part with five other women in “Speak Up. Speak Out.”, produced by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, a nonprofit based in Austin. It is the first rape-awareness campaign in Texas to feature real victims. It is now being replicated across the country. The National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center asserts that 82 percent of rapes nationwide are unreported.
“With personal stories of courage from brave survivors of sexual assault, TAASA’s campaign is not only leading more people than ever to reach out to the hotline, but also ensuring they don’t suffer in silence,” said Scott Berkowitz, founder of the Washington-based Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual-assault organization. In the last year calls to the group’s national sexual hotline have increased by two and half times in Texas and 23 percent nationwide.
Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Texas association, says several states, including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Washington, have shown interest in using the campaign, either with their own state hotline or the national hotline as contact information. “I hope the campaign will also change the way the media covers rape stories and that the subject will no longer be taboo,” said Kelly. She was also featured in Glamour magazine, and made an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“Speak Up. Speak Out.” is funded by a grant from the office of the attorney general in Texas, a state that, according to 2002 FBI statistics, ranks second–after California–in the number of reported rapes. The generous size of the grant–$2 million for two years–enabled the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault to run a paid advertising campaign in April and August of 2003 featuring radio, TV, and print ads in both English and Spanish. The campaign also produces posters and brochures.