About 400 women from the Quad-Cities turned out Thursday to hear Anne Ream, a sexual assault victim-turned-survivor who focuses her efforts today on helping those who have been raped.
Ream of Chicago was the keynote speaker at Family Resources Honor the Women luncheon held at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf. The annual event raises funds for the Quad-Cities Rape/Sexual Assault Counseling and Advocacy program run by Family Resources.
Cheryl Goodwin, president and CEO at the Davenport-based social services organization, said the program guarantees safety and services to victims. State funding, however, could be cut by as much as
$1 million as Iowa reorganizes the way social services are delivered, she said.
“We are working to achieve a vision of safe families in caring communities,” Goodwin said.
The local program handled 700 annual calls to a hot-line service and 255 clients, 93 percent of whom were female and
7 percent male. One-third of the victims were 6-19 years old. For every victim who steps forward, there are an estimated seven others who suffer in silence, she said.
Laura Swift, who chairs the committee that organized the Honor the Women luncheon, said sexual violence does not just happen in large cities, but also in places like the Quad-Cities.
Swift saluted Family Resources for the range of social services it offers to victims of sexual assault and advocated for sustained funding of those services.
Ream founded the Voices and Faces organization after her 1990 rape. She also created a national documentary, “The Voices and Faces Project,” to help victims recover and for advocacy efforts.
Ream used parts of the documentary during her presentation in Bettendorf. “It is a cradle-to-grave” phenomena, she said of the statistics that show rape victims range from toddlers to very elderly adults.
Laura Taylor, a student at Cornell University, learned that her experience was a rape after her college roommate took up her cause. The vast majority of rapists are known to the victims, Ream explained.
Childhood rape victim Christa Desir grew up to be a mother, Ream told the audience. She evolved into a victim’s advocate to help ensure that her own young daughter would grow up in a much safer world than Desir had experienced.
Gabe Wright, a young man who is hearing-impaired, shared his experience in the documentary. “No one wants to hear me speak up,” he said on the video, and Ream explained that male rape victims often are “isolated and alone.”
People who encounter the victim of a sexual assault should first say they are sorry, Ream said, and then offer help to the victim. Don’t be judgmental, and don’t blame the victim, she stressed.
Ream also encouraged lunch participants to speak up in their faith communities, stating that sexual violence is a moral issue as well as a family-values issue.