“Whatever we wear, where we go, yes means yes, and no means no,” protesters chanted after standing for an hour against sexual assault.
Resilience, an independent, not-for-profit organization that advocates for sexual assault survivors, holds the protest every year on the last day of April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The protest took place in front of the Chicago Post Office on Adams and Dearborn street. People were free to grab T-shirts, pins, and signs that were offered to call attention to their own trauma or to advocate for other survivors of sexual assault. The T-shirts and signs were handmade by those who want to bring awareness to this issue and express their experience with sexual assault.
Resilience has dedicated its passion to healing and empowering of sexual assault survivors through non-judgmental crisis intervention counseling, individual and group trauma therapy, and medical and legal advocacy.
“This is my fourteenth year doing this protest,” said Sarah Layden, director of programs and public policy at Resilience. Layden has worked for Resilience for 14 years now and expressed how mental and emotional counseling was not something survivors had access to after a sexual assault happened to them.
“It was so stigmatized back in 1974 when Resilence was first founded,” Layden said. “Victims were leaving the hospital worse than when they came in.” She said that with the help of Resilience, trauma therapists and advocates help victims through the process of gathering evidence, rape kits, dealing with police, nurses, and doctors, etc.
Formally known as Rape Victims Advocates, Resilience is making it their mission to empower survivors and end sex violence among everyone. It offers 24-hour support to 17 hospitals in the greater Chicago metropolitan area as well as in the Cook County Jail.
Trauma therapists are called to come out to hospitals to console and counsel sexual assault victims when needed. Jasmin Hart, a Columbia alum, came out to advocate for victims as well as herself.
“I consider myself a survivor,” said Hart, a survivor of sexual assault that occurred back in 2015 when attending college, Hart is now a volunteer medical advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Hart loves being a part of Resilience where she has gotten an immense amount of help from the organization.
“They help with everything, counseling, education, legal help etc,” Hart said. She said “non-judgmental support” is offered for emotional support after a sexual assault occurs.
Anyone who is a survivor of sexual assault or knows someone who is and is in need of assistance, can call the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline at (888)-293-2080, open 24 hours a day.