I am writing this post while I sit on the sofa in my family room, a place I have spent a lot of time sitting in since my state and county ordered non-essential workers to stay home to avoid catching and/or spreading a deadly virus that has quickly turned into a nationwide pandemic. We’re on week 7 of this order and although I know it will eventually be ok to go back out into society, it doesn’t look like it’ll be happening anytime in our immediate future.
When this all first happened, I had multiple cry-freakouts because I was so worried about the health of my family and friends, and for those who already struggle financially, struggle to keep or even have a roof over their head, struggle to get food, and just hope people who have businesses can survive this ordeal. I used to be one of those people. I am fully aware of the reality of suddenly losing the daily income of cash tips from waitressing which allowed me to put gas in my car or buy a box of cereal for my kids, or wondering if I can squeeze in one more shift at the restaurant and then race to the utility payment office with those tips to pay my electric bill before they shut it off at 5pm. This is such a difficult time for so many people, and you’re all in my heart as each passing day brings uncertainty, financial struggles, more illness, and more death, while more and more weeks get tacked on to our already lengthy quarantine.
Early on into this quarantine/stay home order, I would see people joke on social media about which secret family the cheating husbands chose to quarantine with, or people who were eating a bunch of junk food because of stress and then talking about weight gain, or laughing about day drinking to pass the time. But in between those posts, I would see concerns about spousal abuse, struggles with eating disorders or body dysmorphia being amplified during this crisis, and alcoholics struggling to stay sober when this temporary situation feels so overwhelming that it’s hard to cope. I never commented on their posts, but I saw them, and I took them to heart. But there’s one thing that I hadn’t thought of, because I hadn’t seen anyone post about it, and I have no doubt I’m not seeing it because it’s behind closed doors, in every sense of the word. Staying home doesn’t always mean it’s safe at home.
*I am about to share some statistics only. No details, no individual cases, just facts, but it is related to sexual assault, abuse, and self-harm, so if that is something that you aren’t able to hear, I understand. Please stop reading now, and take care of you.*
In the last couple of years, I have done some things to support RAINN, a non-profit organization that provides counseling and a variety of resources to assist sexual assault survivors, free of charge. After news broke that presidential candidate Donald Trump was on a recording talking about grabbing a woman’s genitals without her consent, calls into the RAINN hotline went way up. When Brett Kavanaugh had hearings before he was granted a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, we heard details from a woman who was said Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in school together, and the calls for support from RAINN once again went through the roof. Each assault incident brought to the public becomes a reminder for others of their own personal assault experience. And now with this stay at home order, there’s been some discussion about women having to stay home with a significant other who now has full-time access to assaulting her, with no reprieve of an outside world to escape to. That’s a scary thought. But the part that hadn’t occurred to me until I recently sat in on a zoom meeting with the president of RAINN, Scott Berkowitz, and several other staff and volunteers of the organization, is the thousands of minor children who are forced to stay home because of this virus going around, with a family member in the house who sexually assaults them.
I know, it’s horrifying. I have had many a cry since hearing this.
Since the stay at home orders took place in early March, more than 50% of the callers to the RAINN hotline are minors, and 8 out of 10 of these kids are living with their abuser. To put that into perspective, RAINN receives on average, 25,000 callers a month, and now, more than half of those calls are coming from minors. Many of these kids relied on their teachers, their school counselors, and their friends, to help them with this horrific situation and now, they don’t have access to that support, so some of them are turning to RAINN for help. On top of seeking help away from their abuser, these kids are also dealing with suicide idealization and self-harm because they feel trapped and helpless, so the RAINN counselors are working very hard to help these kids stay alive, as well as safe. The longer we have to stay home to avoid spreading this virus, the more these sexual assaults on minors are likely to happen. Fortunately, police and child protective services are still available and are doing all they can to help when calls come in, but the fear of spreading this virus by being taken out of a home and being placed into another is an additional issue none of us have had to face, until now. For more details, you can read this Huffington Post article.
After hearing about these kids who are seeking help from RAINN, I felt like I couldn’t just sit here and do nothing. The reason RAINN is able to help these kids- these thousands of kids who are calling in for free help- is because of donations to fund these resources RAINN provides. I spent days trying to figure out a way more people can help besides just me, in a time where many are experiencing a pay cut or no pay at all because we all have to stay home. I see so many people doing online auctions for items, or for fun virtual experiences, which is great and it is working for some people, but it leaves out those who would like one of these things but quickly get out-bid and can’t afford to stay in the auction any longer. So I came up with an idea.
I thought it would be fun to do a “drawing” for some items Wil and I have. If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of the paintings I’ve been doing. And if you follow Wil on his various social platforms, you’ve probably seen an episode or two of his YouTube series, TableTop. We have put together some board games that were played on TableTop that are signed on the game lid by each celebrity player from their respective episode, and I am (EEP!) ready to part with some of my paintings so many of you have asked about purchasing. But here’s the fun part! We are going to make these items available, one at a time, for three days each (I will post photos on Twitter and Instagram) of the item available for the drawing. The way you enter the drawing to win is by making a $10 tax-deductible donation directly to RAINN. You can increase your chances of winning by doing as many individual $10 donations as you’d like over the three days (much like buying tickets to increase your chances of having your ticket number called) and then the winner will be selected by me rolling dice and the number it lands on will be the donor I count to on the donation spreadsheet I can see on my end through my donation page. This way, you have a chance whether you donate $10 one time, or you donate multiple times. It’ll all depend on the dice! (Don’t worry, I won’t let Wil roll the dice on account of his uh…luck with that.) Sound good? Great! Here’s the items that’ll be in the drawing. And remember, they will go up one at a time, be up for three days, you can enter the drawing as many times as you’d like by doing individual $10 donations over the three days, and then I’ll roll the dice, find the donor on the list, notify you that you won, and then we’ll move on to the next item, so it doesn’t get confusing as to which item you are entering for. There are 7 items total. Each will be packaged up while wearing gloves and a face mask, and I will ship everything out once all 7 items are gone, so as to avoid going to the post office multiple times during a pandemic. This drawing is available internationally as well, you just might not receive the tax deduction for your donation outside of the U.S. Oh, and I will cover the packaging and shipping costs so there’s no additional expense to you, just your donation (or several, up to you) that helps RAINN continue to provide services these kids so desperately need right now. Here is a link to my donation page where you can make your individual donations for the drawing beginning on Wednesday, April 22nd. Also, if you aren’t interested in being part of the drawing and just want to support the organization, that’s great! Just make your donation amount anything other than the even $10 amount so I know not to include you in whichever drawing is happening at the time.
Below are photos of what will be up for the drawings. If you go to my Instagram now you can watch an IGTV video where I will show each item and give a description of them, and then every 3 days, there will be individual photos with the details in the post, and when each item has a winner, I will update in the post description who won, as well as in my Instagram stories, and on my Twitter, if you’re there. You will get an email if you are the winner, in case you miss the announcement on the social medias.
This is going to be fun!!