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Speak Up: Rape Happens

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Rape is an unforgivable act that often leaves the victim feeling ashamed, alone, and invisible. Horrid flashbacks of the event are hard for the victim to remember, and reporting the crime can be a daunting experience. Instead, many sexual assault survivors remain silent and try to forget that the traumatic event ever happened, but Becky Fein wants these rape victims to know that they are not alone, and that they have a safe place to seek support and let their stories be heard through her nonprofit organization, the Powerful Voices Project.

Fein co-founded the Powerful Voices Project in order to create conversation around sexual assault, and to empower women to share their stories without being shamed or judged. She is traveling across the US to create a documentary series profiling the different stories and experiences of sexual assault survivors, and capture the distress and burden these women and men carry after such ordeals.

“This is an experience of lack of control. This is an experience of disempowerment,” Fein said in the Powerful Voices Project official trailer. “The one thing that we can control is how and when we walk about it. The Powerful Voices Project is really about creating the space for mattering, and for worthiness, and for finding power in a way that has been taken from us.”

When Fein was 20 years old, she was raped by a hostel worker while traveling alone in Europe. The idea for her organization came from a conversation she had with a friend two years after the assault. She learned that her close friend was also raped, and that they both struggled with similar issues after the event, such as anxiety, guilt, and depression. With her background as a crisis line counselor and Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University, Fein is building awareness around sexual assault and highlighting the prevalence of sexual trauma in our society.

“Speaking your story is a huge step in the recovery process,” Fein said in a feature segment by NBC News below. “We are taught as survivors, subconsciously, to keep this [sexual assault experience] wrapped up, ‘we don’t want to see that, we don’t want to talk about it.’ Storytelling is how we prevent this in the future. As soon as we start seeing that, that was my sister or that was my mother or my partner that has experienced that, it becomes real, and we can start speaking out about it.”

The Powerful Voices Project is currently gathering donations and funding for their short films through their website and Indiegogo page. Each video costs around $1,000, including time, travel, and technology costs. So far, the organization has raised $3,228, almost $2,000 more than their initial goal. The funds will also go toward helping the organization host their first fundraising event, which is a production of the play, The Vagina Monologues.

Not only does Fein want women to know that their experiences with sexual assault should not be silenced, but also that their courage in sharing their stories is helping to stop sexual assault and rape from becoming the norm. If someone you know has been sexually assaulted, follow Fein’s example: lend an ear, and guide them in seeking help, but most importantly, let them know that their voice matters.


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