Tracy and Evan Segal: Raising Awareness and Uplifting Survivors’ Voices

Each month, RAINN highlights a member of its National Leadership Council. 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, RAINN sat down with Tracy and Evan Segal, the founders of The Segal Family Foundation. Inspired by the Jewish notion of "Tikkun Olam," the foundation’s mission is focused on human kindness and social justice. It seeks to “heal, repair, and transform the world, through the support of numerous civic and community organizations.” Partnering with organizations large and small, the foundation focuses on enabling innovative programs, sparking new organizational collaboration and helping to build capacity.

What do we need to do as a country to prevent sexual violence?

We need to continue to destigmatize the conversation of sexual violence by encouraging survivors to speak up. We need to make survivors feel safe, supported, and believed. We must rid our society of conversations that are minimalizing, mocking, or insensitive.

What inspired you to become part of RAINN’s National Leadership Council?

As a country we have, over time, normalized the sexual marginalization of women and minorities through the creation of artificial power structures. Raising daughters and working with business, government, philanthropy and academia in this culture opened our eyes to how regulated this behavior had become. This led us to serve as Executive Producers of a documentary film, Nevertheless, that shares survivor stories. Emmy award-winning filmmaker and TEDX speaker Sarah Moshman, through her eloquent storytelling, helped us to understand just how pervasive of an issue sexual violence has become.

Furthermore, through his teaching and mentoring, Evan has had the opportunity to meet students and founders to understand their leadership journeys. We are disgusted and angered that so many of their stories include sexual harassment and/or violence.

Do you feel special motivation about this issue as a philanthropist?

As philanthropists, we always feel that our role is to invest time and funding in under-resourced societal issues such as sexual harassment and violence. We feel a special motivation to draw more attention to sexual violence as we see the impact of having fully staffed sexual assault hotlines available to survivors of all ages, races and genders. We see the tremendous impact in bringing survivors together on multiple platforms and in several languages and know it takes significant funding to make this happen. Last, we see that survivors need to tell their stories when they are ready and in a format where they feel safe and comfortable. As philanthropists, we don't want funding to be the obstacle that prevents the healing of all survivors.

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

We can be better at noticing when survivors in our lives are experiencing a resurfacing of their trauma. We should reach out to them when we notice a potentially triggering event, whether in the news or in their personal lives. We must advocate by calling out "locker room talk" or degradation and marginalization in real time when we hear it or read it or watch it. We cannot remain silent as this is complaisance.

What is your message to survivors?

You are not alone. We, as funders, stand by you, millions of other sexual assault survivors stand with you and RAINN stands with you.

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

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Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 310 are reported to the police.

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A $25 monthly gift can educate 15,000 people about preventing sexual violence. Can you think of a better way to spend $1 a day?

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