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  • Writer's pictureSARA

June 2023: Letter from the Director

Dear Friends of SARA,

One of the more common questions we receive at SARA is, “who do you serve?” When we opened our doors nearly 45 years ago, rape crisis centers were new, part of the second wave of feminism. While that era brought much needed awareness and resources for sexual and domestic violence, it primarily centered cis, white women. Rape and sexual assault were seen primarily as a women’s issue. Missing from the narrative were the voices of black and other women of color, as well as the voices of LGBTQ+ folks. Voices of men who had experience sexual assault were hidden as well.

Over the years, what began as Charlottesville Rape Crisis Center became the Sexual Assault Resource Agency. Our mission expanded to not only address the impact of sexual violence through advocacy but to work toward the prevention of sexual violence through culture change. We embrace the value of continuous improvement when it comes to reaching and learning from the underserved communities and unamplified voices that have historically been ignored, diminished, and devalued. We can and have to always do better.

So, to answer the question, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency serves women, men, children, non-binary folk, trans folk, anyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or immigration status who have experienced sexual assault or cares about someone who has experienced assault. We work across all these communities to bring change and to prevent sexual assault from occurring in the first place. Yet, we know we have a long way to go, and we can’t get there alone.

That’s why we want to amplify the programs and organizations from the LGBTQ+ community:

The Action Alliance LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline focuses on anti-violence in the queer community. This is a space for survivors and people impacted by violence, like friends, family, professionals, and the general public, to connect about LGBTQ+ centered resources.

Free. Confidential. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 365 days a year.

Text: 804.793.9999

LGBTQ Helpline: 1.866.356.6998

Virginia Anti-Violence Project, whose mission is to address and prevent violence within and against diverse LGBTQ+ communities across Virginia.

Side By Side (formerly ROSMY), whose mission is dedicated to creating supportive communities where Virginia’s LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish.

While the LGBTQ+ community is under threat and discrimination at ever increasing levels, my wish for you all this June is to find joy and celebration this and every month. You are so necessary and so cherished here at SARA.

In kindness and solidarity,

Renee Branson

Executive Director

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