Article on RAINN in Santa Cruz

Added April 2, 1997

A school newspaper at UC Santa Cruz printed a front page article about Tori and RAINN recently (I currently don't know the issue date). It was called A SAVIOR IN THESE DIRTY STREETS by Danielle Hunt. I would like to thank Dominick for sending me this article.

Tori Amos Unlocks the Silence For RAINN

By: Danielle Hunt
Staff Writer

"It was me and a gun and a man on my back and I sang 'holy holy' as he buttoned down his pants."

-Tori Amos, "Me and a Gun"

As a victim of rape, Tori Amos has communicated (through word and song) a message of hope for rape survivors. "Unlock the Silence," is the motto for RAINN, (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), of which Tori Amos is the creator/spokesperson.

RAINN works in cooperation with 600 rape crisis centers around the country. The Network acts as a free, 24-hour hotline reserved for sexual assault victims.

How does it work? When a call comes in from 1-800-656-HOPE, the computer recognizes the area code and routes the call to the nearest crisis center. When the number is delivered, it drops out of existence. The caller's phone number disappears from the computer and is never seen again. This measure is taken to ensure confidentiality.

Recently, Amos was interviewed on the radio program 'Modern Rock Live'. She spoke of her involvement with RAINN.

"Me and a Gun" got a heavy response and it got to the point where I realized I wasn't equipped to answer some of these questions becuase you only know your own experience. You don't know what to do with somebody else's past. I was lucky enough to work with people that helped me to my next step. It became clear that many people didn't have that advantage."

Just last year, RAINN was struggling for financial support. Fortunately, Atlantic Records and Warner Brothers stepped in to save the network from MCI shutting them down. But, with such little community support and involvement, the organization needed more.

That is when fellow musicians, REM, Bad Religion, and Toad the Wet Sprocket, cam forward to help raise the awareness level of the hotline. Most importantly, at least financailly, fashion king, Calvin Klein has dedicated his company to a year long campaign.

Each month, C.K. puts up an item from their line-everything from eye wear-and a percentage of the sold merchandise goes to RAINN.

In its short existence, the NetWork has already helped over 108,000 survivors since it was established in July of 1994. But, if a woman is raped every two minutes, this number suggests that for many, silence is a virtue.

The U.S. Justice Department's recent statistics state that only 26% of all rapes are being reported to law enforcement officials. That means less than one in every three women speak up.

Gillian Greensite, coordinator of UCSC's Rape Prevention Education Program (RPEP), says that much too often "rape and silence become synonymous words."

Greensite founded UCSC's program in 1979, and since has been passionate in bringing awareness about rape to students and staff. The program concentrates on educating the campus community about rape via peer workshops, popular film series, and fact pamphlets. "Through education, we try to answer the question, 'what are our values in this society that make this a rape culture-promotes rape, condones rape, and exploits women's bodies?"

On January 29th, Amos appeared on the David Letterman show to play her re-released song, "Silent All These Years" which is the "song that got played associated with RAINN," says Amos.

Letterman did not mention the 1-800 number and he used the word, "abuse" instead of rape.

Greensite attributes this ignorance to fear, "The word 'rape' is very uncomfortable for people to deal with. It's not accidental, [coded words] it is vert typical in this society. We need to be able to breakdown the stigmas."

Rita walker is the Title IX Officer at UCSC. When victims of sexual harassment and rape file a complaint, they go to her office. Walker states that, "Usually, when a student comes in to file a charge, the harassment reflects on a much deeper pre-existing problem- incest or rape from childhood."

According to a 1996 report by the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, one-third of all juvenile victims of sexual abuse cases are children younger than six years of age.

Many children are afraid to report an incident when a family member or relative is at fault.

This explains why many people keep in silence until new assaults bring old abuses to the surface.

While RAINN attempts to help break the silence, it also has its faults. The nearest crisis centers to Santa Cruz in its listing are Monterey and San Jose. Greensite, coordinator of UCSC's RPEP, views this as problematic, "If you are going to have a resource for rape, it has to be accurate." But, with help from the television and music industry, and public contributions, the organization says it hopes over the next several months, to increase the number of listings to include virtually all the rape crisis centers in the United States.

Funding also remains a problem for RAINN. For example, only a small percentage of all Calvin Klein merchandise profits goes to RAINN. It costs twenty-five dollars for a simple white cotton T-shirt with RAINN's logo. It may seem like a high price to pay, but sometimes you have to compromise a little to get yourself heard. The important issue is that the Network has a goal to raise 500,000 dollars in 1997. With awareness and support, its needs might be met.

Amos fuels this need with an optimistic outlook, "I think something is happening on the planet where it's just not okay to be property anymore. For a long time, if you were not the right race, and the right sex, whatever that was, at that time on Earth, you were property, and that is not okay anymore. Although it's still exercised everyday, it is breaking down, it has been breaking down for a long time. But, now it seems to be louder than its ever been and it really starts with people speaking up."

Please give me feedback, comments, or suggestions about my site. Email me (Michael Whitehead) at