Author and Performer, Lexie Bean, on Self-Care and Beyond

Each month, RAINN highlights a member of its National Leadership Council (NLC). The NLC is a group of dedicated individuals who have shown their commitment to RAINN’s mission of supporting survivors and ending sexual violence. This month we checked in with survivor, author, and performer, Lexie Bean.

Why are you passionate about ending sexual violence?

Because agency is a human right - as is speaking to how other's actions affect us. As survivors of sexual abuse or violence, the ability to practice either is taken away. Ending sexual violence is not simple - it's not going to come from jails, it's not going to come from ridding the world of anyone who has participated in rape culture. It's not enough to get rid of something, but to hold space to heal all of us entrenched in it.

I am passionate about this because I have lost my own sense of time, whether it be through cycles or the little things, like how I hold my own posture. I am passionate about this because of the various I identities I belong to who are often left out the conversation and therefore carry shame in different ways - masculine-adjacent, chronically ill, trans and queer, childhood sexual abuse survivors. I am passionate about this because I've been told abuse is inevitable, and for too long I believed it, too.

How can we all be better supporters and advocates for survivors in our lives?

In a vast majority of related training I have attended, the emphasis is on crisis and passing someone a list of hotlines. In reality, due to the shame and circumstances of sexual abuse, most people will not experience a survivor on the worst days.

As a result, I developed a skillshare series on supporting survivors in our own lives - Beyond The Heroic Survivor. It's broken into three weeks, the first on asking for help ourselves and undoing mythologies around survivorship, and followed by a focus-week on short term support and final week on long term support. More information on November's can be accessed here,

With this, I will offer - seek help and support when YOU need it, as a supporting person. Both to break out of any savior-attempt that may infantilize a survivor or, do the opposite, to make the assumption that survivors must be heroes to the world. Also this action allows for personal reflection of how hard it is for anybody to ask for different kinds of help. Allow this to be a source of solidarity, and community.

Additionally, I will offer a few bullet points generated by survivors who participated in Beyond Self Care, a paired skillshare specifically for survivors on caring for ourselves. To whom, I asked the question, what were elements of a time you asked for short-term help and it felt good?

  • Didn't expect the survivor to explain everything
  • Offering tangible resources - money, a bed, meals, etc.
  • Co-creating a long-term ritual - only when you truly mean it
  • Ensuring agency for the survivor every step of the way - ask directly before making a decision for them, especially when it comes to police and reporting
  • Offered a quiet activity that fit both parties needs - most often these activities avoid eye contact, like taking a walk or doing an art project
  • In emergency settings, sometimes the best thing another person can do in that moment is be in the room together and offer presences - whether it be over the phone or in person.
  • Thank that person for sharing, and follow up.

What is your message to survivors?

You deserve to be humanized. You don't have to be pure, you don't have to be an angel to be in community. You can be someone who's made mistakes or acted out; you can be someone who doesn't do direct service or speak at schools. You don't have to be a perfect survivor, nor have words for your own story. I am working to offer permission to myself, as well.

Why did you want to be a part of RAINN's National Leadership Council?

The multiple channels RAINN offers, whether through phone, chat, or movement-building, offers a reminder that whenever the decision to formally ask for help does happen - a net, of sorts, is there. It's an honor to be amongst Council members who generated art that has offered me support that was vital to my care well before ever considering more formal support. For example, Speak by Council member Laurie Halse Anderson was the first novel I read as a pre-teen that engaged with sexual abuse. Like the protagonist, I stopped speaking, too. I believe this work partially inspired my journey as an author as well. Meanwhile, Praying by Council member Kesh is what initially gave me the courage to sit with old home video footage to co-create my first short film on the subject, Full. This was a lesson on the ways in which I can touch the past again, and still live and still go forward in the ways I know how. The increasing multi-dimensionality of the RAINN National Leadership Council reminds me that prevention, support, and education happen well before an institution ever arrives. And, in fact, we all need each other.

Eight out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone who knows the victim.

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