How I Learned the Importance of Advocacy

By Deborah L. Graham Deborah Graham, a member of the Steering Committee of Chicago Says No More, is Senior Advisor, Illinois State Treasurer Office. I started to advocate because I survived domestic violence. When I was a victim 24 years ago, there were few agencies readily available for me to seek assistance. There were no housing programs, so I lived in the shelter for eight months. I secretly had to save money.  I was afraid my children would be taken away by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). I was plagued with shame for a good number of years and kept...

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First Response: The Importance of Listening When Sexual Assault Survivors Tell Their Stories

When New York Magazine published their now-iconic cover story featuring 35 women who reported that, over the course of many years, Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them, social media was ablaze. With Cosby having admitted in a deposition to using Quaaludes with women, it seemed the tide had begun to turn from the aggressive doubting of these women’s accounts to a reluctant acceptance that perhaps Cosby had actually harmed them. Within their stories, and within the stories of so many of the survivors that we at Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) have served in Chicago since 1974, there’s a shared pivotal moment that deserves...

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