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RAINN Helping Victims of Sexual Assault Online

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April 14, 2008 – (Washington, DC) – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization today launched a new service to provide support to victims online. Since 1994 RAINN has provided help to over 1.2 million people through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE). Help is now also available through the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at www.rainn.org.

Every 2 minutes another American is sexually assaulted. Almost half of these victims are under 18, and 80% are under 30. According to Scott Berkowitz, president & founder of RAINN, “The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline provides the services these young victims need, using the technology they embrace. The Online Hotline provides a safe way to begin recovery by using extensive security measures to guarantee that the visitor remains completely anonymous.”

The Online Hotline offers a lifeline to victims trapped in a situation where the Internet may be their only safe and secure link to the outside world and to getting help.
— Christina Ricci, RAINN's National Spokesperson

The secure web-based hotline provides a safe, secure an anonymous place for victims to get help online. Using an instant-messaging style format, the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline allows sexual assault victims to communicate directly with trained crisis support volunteers.

“The Online Hotline provides a solution to the dangerous trend of victims getting help online through insecure websites,” explained Berkowitz. “Many young sexual assault victims are turning to the Internet for help through insecure chat rooms, blogs, and social networking sites. This dangerous trend of victims turning to the Internet for help leaves victims vulnerable to unreliable advice, exposes their identity, and makes their postings available to the world through Google.”

RAINN worked with its technology partners to build the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline’s innovative communications infrastructure from the ground up, integrating security and anonymity at every level. The Online Hotline does not capture users’ IP addresses, nor does it record transcripts of sessions. McAfee, Inc., the global leader in online security, partnered with RAINN to ensure the security of the Online Hotline. "Trust and safety are tantamount for the Online Hotline to work," said Dave DeWalt, chief executive officer and president of McAfee, Inc. "We are proud to contribute to our societal commitments by helping provide the assurance needed for this important national initiative."

In addition to providing support to victims of sexual assault, the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline provides information about recovery, medical issues, the criminal justice process, and local resources for family and friends of victims.

"Through the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, RAINN is providing a way for victims to get help from people who are knowledgeable and prepared to support them," said actress Christina Ricci, National Spokesperson for RAINN. "The Online Hotline offers a lifeline to victims trapped in a situation where the Internet may be their only safe and secure link to the outside world and to getting help."

The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline has been awarded the NPower Technology Innovation Award for its groundbreaking use of technology. Additionally, the Online Hotline has been internationally recognized for its innovative volunteer opportunities by Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP).

To read the USA Today article "Groups Reach Out to Online Abuse Victims", highlighting RAINN and the Online Hotline, please visit usatoday.com.

For more information on how you can join RAINN in the fight against sexual assault, visit: www.rainn.org.

About RAINN

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE and rainn.org) in partnership with over 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. The hotlines have helped more than 1.2 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.


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