Building a Chorus of Voices
For generations young service men and women have traveled to dangerous parts of the world to protect our freedom. We collectively as Americans and as individuals owe them, especially those that have been victimized by our own. Thirty percent of active women in the military today are sexually assaulted. There are more than 500,000 veterans who are survivors of mostly unpunished sexual violence.
"It is not right to recruit our young people into the military and then not only have them brutalized, but retaliated against when they report their crimes of rape or sexual assault," said Nancy Parrish, founder, Protect Our Defenders. "Our service men and women deserve better. We need to live up to our ideals as Americans and once we fix this, our country will be better and we will be more secure for it. This is why I founded Protect Our Defenders."
Recognized nationally, Protect Our Defenders leads the effort to reform the U.S. Military’s system for handling rape and sexual assault. Since its inception in March 2011, they have captured seven survivor's stories on video, and more than 20,000 supporters have joined their cause. The nonprofit has built a website that provides survivors a platform to share their stories, a support services network, a resource library and a forum to connect with each other, all to find help.
A Community of 100,000 Supporters by Year-End
Using video testimonials and Salsa’s organizing platform, Protect Our Defenders has grown from Nancy's initial idea and a handful of supporters to a solid organization that is positioned to drive a cultural change in the way the military handles its sexual abuse claims.
With the support from Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), who began to share victims' survivor stories on the House Floor, Protect Our Defenders is getting attention. Congresswoman Speier introduced a new bill to Congress on November 16, 2011 titled the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Protection Act (STOP Act) in order to present a better model to address the Building a Chorus of Voices many reports of sexual assault in the military that do not reach prosecution and the many more incidents of military sexual assault which are not reported at all. With 18 speeches on military sexual violence given on the House Floor, the Congresswoman has played a critical role bringing visibility to this issue.
To build a strong chorus of voices for change, the nonprofit has an aggressive goal to reach 100,000 supporters by year-end. That's a five-fold increase over the number they have today. Impressive, considering they've only been operating for a little more than 12 months.
To reach their goal, Nancy and her team at Protect Our Defenders have used a variety of online technologies to generate a greater awareness of their cause. Besides leveraging video and social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Salsa’s fundraising, communications and advocacy solutions play a critical role in the success of Protect Our Defenders.