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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 12 #12DaysofChristmas #SeasonofGiving: Pandora's Project

Pandora's Project
Compliments of Jennifer Blair

Hi, my name is Jennifer, and I’m going to start my post with some tough statistics.
One out of six.  This is the number of women in the United States who has been the victim of rape or attempted rape.  (17.7 million women)*

One out of 33.  This is the number of men in the United States who has been the victim of rape or attempted rape. (2.78 million men)
207,754. This is the number of sexual assaults that occur in the United States each year.

Two minutes.  A sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the United States.

54% of rape victims don’t report their assault, meaning some of the other statistics presented might not be completely accurate.  The numbers are likely higher. 

73% of rape victims know their attacker.

Being raped by a stranger is much less likely, though not completely rare. When rape is discussed the image that often comes to mind is someone jumping out of the bushes in the dark, or a woman being dragged into an alley.  These attacks can happen, but it’s even more likely for someone to be taken advantage of by a date or an acquaintance or a neighbor.  The assailant may be a relative or even a spouse. 

Now here’s a better number:

60%.  This is the amount by which sexual assault in the United States has decreased since 1991

A really important way to reduce sexual assault is to educate people about it.

In 2001, then 22-year-old rape survivor Shannon Lambert started hosting a message board with her Tori Amos-inspired blog that served to assure rape survivors that they were not alone (Lambert’s blog no longer exists, but many still do.  You can find a link to the blogs below).    

She started a publicly hosted message board when she and her blog were featured on the program 20/20 in 1999.  She got many emails and had people reaching out to her often, so the message board was created to give people a way to connect to each other as she recognized the need for community, and knew her site would get a lot more traffic upon being featured on television.

In 2001, the message board had approximately 250 members, a number that has grown considerably over the years.  In 2002, a moderated chat room was made available, giving an opportunity for survivors to speak to each other in real time.  More and more sections were added to the message board to meet the needs of the members: there’s a section for just male survivors, as well as one for just female survivors.  There’s a section for secondary survivors, who are people in our lives who support us and who are also affected by the aftermath of rape.  There’s a place for survivors to tell their stories, and then there are places to share recipes and pictures of our pets.   

With over 35,000 members today, Pandora’s Aquarium (or “Pandy’s” as we often call it) is still the name of the message board, but it is only a part of the whole site, now named Pandora’s Project.

Pandora’s Project is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and is the largest online support group for survivors of sexual assault on the internet.  In addition to housing a message board, there is a lending library, national and international crisis hotlines, a newsletter, access to a whole network of blogs, and more.   We have guest speakers chats presented  to the community via the chat room, speakers such as well known sex therapist and author of The Sexual Healing Journey: AGuide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse,  Wendy Maltz, and Jaime P, the founder and director of An Infinite Mind, a resource that educates people about Dissociative Identity Disorder.  (Transcripts for all the chats may be found under the drop-down “library” menu .)   

Pandora’s Project has hosted a healing retreat, and plans to host more in the future.

Pandy’s creates a safe environment for any survivor, male or female, over the age of 16, as well as for secondary survivors.  It takes a lot of people to keep such a large community running safely.  In addition to the board administrators, there are moderators of the message board, as well as section moderators, who help forums related to specific aspects of healing. Keep in mind, everyone can see the site at, but only  registered members can see the whole message board.  There are some public forums accessible by guests who want to see what the message board is about, but if you want to participate in the community, you must register to see the complete board.  Registrations  are approved by the board moderators, and are always looked at to keep the board as safe as possible. Some forums aren’t visible to the entire population to maintain  privacy of specific groups.  For example, male members don’t have access to the specifically female  forum, and vice versa.  A safe, caring, supportive environment is what everybody wants  and what the staff strives to maintain.

Keeping up with such a large community costs money, though.  The board software, the chat software, postage for the Lending Library, payment for guest speakers, materials for retreats…these are just a few expenses off the top of my head.  Although Lambert was nominated for and won the L’Oreal Women of Worth Award and a grant along with it, almost all funding comes from donations.   There are a number of ways to donate!

·         Visit their DONATION page. This gives you the option to use a credit card, PayPal, or snail mail.  Since  Pandora’s Project is a 501(c)(3) organization, donations you make will be tax-deductable.

·         OR you can use their Amazon  link and Pandy’s will get a portion of the money you spend while shopping at Amazon.  Nothing extra is required by you, and you don’t have to pay any extra.  

·         By using the search engine, Goodsearch  , Pandy’s will get a cent for every search made. (You will have to search for and select “Pandora’s Aquarium")

·         Also, once you have selected “Pandora’s Aquarium ,  check out “GoodShop” from the top menu and then select one of 500 online retailers (including Zappos, Best Buy, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Target, and many more!). Pandy's receives a commission up to 30% whenever you follow GoodShop links to your favorite retailers.  For example, Best Buy will then donate 0.5-3% of your total amount spent to Pandora’s Project.  (I always use it when I wish to buy something from Best Buy…no matter how big or small.  Then, instead of having the item shipped, I select the in-store pickup.  I recommend this method!)  “GoodDining” works the same way once you register.  Up to 6% of what you spend at a participating restaurant will be donated.

 In-kind donations are appreciated, and help  monetary donations be directed straight to programming, rather than to overhead. We especially appreciate the following types of in-kind donations if you need some ideas:
·         U.S. postage stamps in any denomination (used for general purposes and to ship books for the lending library)
·         Target and Wal-Mart gift cards (for office supplies and retreat supplies)
·         Best Buy gift cards (for technology needs, such as software)
· e-certificates (for lending library materials and software)
·         Office Max and Office Depot gift cards (for envelopes, printing paper, and general office supplies)
·         Books & DVDs in good condition for the lending library (see this page for our wishlist)

As with monetary donations, the value of in-kind donations is tax deductible as allowed under law. If you'd like to make an in-kind donation, here is our address:

Pandora's Project           
3109 W. 50th St.
Suite #320
Minneapolis, MN 55410-2102

Questions??? Contact us by EMAIL

Follow Pandora’s Project on Twitter and like us on Facebook!  

*Statistics courtesy of RAINN

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