BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — An organized walk along Constitution Beach in East Boston on Sunday aimed to fundraise for survivors of sexual assault, and the free services provided to them by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
The annual "Walk for Change" is the largest gathering in New England that raises awareness of sexual violence and demonstrates community support for survivors, the BARCC's website says. According to officials, the 2019 walk had more than 1,200 attendees and accumulated over $200,000 for BARCC services.
State Representative and House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Adrian Madaro and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley were in attendance at the Walk for Change 2022.
With about 45 staff members and 160 volunteers, the BARCC says they assist survivors of sexual violence ages 12 and up and their families in areas like healthcare, criminal justice, social service, and school systems.
"We believe you, survivors. We're here for you, there's a whole community of folks that are here for you, and your voice matters," said Kerri Cullen of the BARCC.
One event at the walk, called the "Clothesline Project," gave attendees the opportunity to break their silence and educate others through T-shirt designing that details a survivor's experience. The BARCC says messages from the project may be upsetting or triggering for some to read.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than 43 percent of women and almost one in four men have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Officials say that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen years old.
"It's a pervasive issue that affects everybody, it doesn't discriminate against social and economic status, race, gender, anything like that," Cullen said.
This year, the Walk of Change aims to raise $300,000 for BARCC services, a goal that the movement has collected nearly half of at the time of posting. Interested donators can find out more about ways to give here.
WBZ's Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) reports.