BWBBlack Women’s Blueprint, an organization that “provides the personal and political spaces as well as the resources needed for women to engage in intersectional advocacy at the grassroots and societal level,” has launched the “Truth Commission.”

The grassroots initiative was developed to address the impact of sexual violence on black women. This is an important issue receiving minimal attention. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) found more than 18 percent of black women endure rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.

Black Women’s Blueprint found 60 percent of Black girls experience sexual abuse before turning 18 and the Black Women’s Health Imperative released a report estimating 40 percent of black women are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

Sexual assault and rape is an epidemic. Brooke Axtell, a Forbes contributor and women’s rights advocate, writes: “The pervasive nature of this trauma could translate into an increased risk for Black women and girls to experience depression, PTSD and addiction, common symptoms experienced by many survivors of rape.”

The trauma is compounded by a classist, sexist and racist society that renders our pain invisible.

Lori S. Robinson, author of I Will Survive: The African-American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse, writes:

“No race, ethnic group, or economic class is spared from sexual violence or the myths and misinformation that complicate the healing process for survivors. But in addition to our higher victimization rate, African Americans are less likely to get the help we need to heal.”

Robinson also notes that less than 5 percent of black sexual assault victims seek counseling and more than half suffer in silence. “African-American women are raped at a higher rate than White women, and are less likely to report it. We have suffered in silence far too long,” she writes.

The Truth Commission is intervening to “demand more public and private support for primary prevention strategies at the grassroots community level that will stop violence against women and girls before it occurs.” Black Women’s Blueprint intends to use the initiative to launch an education campaign that provides support and education to survivors, their families and urban communities. It is designed to orchestrate anti-rape strategies in black communities.

Women of color are encouraged to participate in the Truth Commission through four simple steps:

Take an Anonymous Survey about Rape

Black Women’s Blueprint has developed an online survey to gauge general knowledge of rape. It takes less than five minutes to complete and requires no name or other identifiers.

Attend an Organizing Meeting

The organization hosts several events each month. A full calendar is available at Black Women’s Blueprint’s site.

Join the Live Free Campaign

Black Women’s Blueprint is using social media to brand the commission and expand its reach. A Facebook space has been created for Black women to do what we have been historically denied – to name, lay claim and share what our bodies mean to us on our own terms, using our own language.” It encourages ownership by asking participants to do three things:

Step One: Fill in the blank: My Body, My _____

Step Two: Post a picture of yourself that signifies your relationship with your body

Step Three: Include a personal manifesto to explain your declaration on body autonomy, body integrity, rights, healing and informing.

Chime in Clutchettes and gents. Will you support the Truth Commission?

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