All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

7 Lessons We Need to Learn from Amber Amour

I think it's fairly non-controversial to say that rape victims deserve justice and respect. I've previously written about how we need to start changing the conversation surrounding rape victims and how they need to be recognized for their strength rather than seen as weak. Rape victims are not weak. They are amazingly strong and nobody I know proves that more than my friend Amber AmourAmber, a rape victim herself, started a non-profit to help raise awareness and support for girls who have been raped. She started the  #StopRapeEducate campaign where she has run workshops around the world educating people about the realities of rape and how to support victims, all the while raising awareness through her street chalk projects.

I met Amber while campaigning for same-sex marriage in my home state of New Jersey before she started the #StopRapeEducate project. During the campaign she was always upbeat and smiling. She really lifted everyone's spirits, especially mine, and truly made the work so much better. She is an absolutely amazing person and I have nothing but love and respect for her. You can imagine, perhaps, how startled I felt as my friend’s tear filled face started filling up my news feeds. It wasn't because I hadn't seen the picture (I'd seen it weeks earlier) but because it meant that Amber’s story was going viral.

Amber had been in South Africa working on her project when she was raped. Unlike many victims, Amber went straight to social media for support - putting into practice her activism, looking for support and human compassion - and she continued to "live-blog" her whole experience with the ordeal. I've been following her updates from the beginning offering my love and support to the choir of voices on her pages. 

I first saw the story on HuffPo, but now the Examinerthe Independent, the Daily Mail and many others have all jumped onto the story. Of course, the curse of getting mass media attention is that not all of that attention is positive. However, there are some lessons we need to learn from Amber's experience: