RALEIGH, N.C. — Outreach for Our Wave, a new non-profit organization that collects stories from survivors of sexual assault has begun and is building an online community where survivors can be heard, believed and supported, its director of outreach, Cathy Gomes, shared.

It will launch with a party on Sept. 14, 7 p.m., at 1401 Christmas Ct., in Raleigh. Tickets are free and available online.

The organization “differentiates ourselves in that our website provides a means for survivors to safely and anonymously share stories. By providing this anonymous story-telling platform, we have the potential to reach the majority of survivors who do not share their story so that we can drive a wave of change within a broader community,” Gomes added.

The organization has been conducting research by posting online surveys on how to best help survivors of sexual assault and have received a large response from members of the LGBTQ community.

The ultimate goal of the non-profit is to help survivors of sexual assault on their path toward healing. Our Wave initially set about doing this because “we saw friends and loved ones struggling to get closure after suffering through traumatic events, and we wanted to bring together a community where this could be possible. We saw how difficult it is for someone to speak about sexual violence at all, much less publicly share a story about something so deeply painful and personal,” Gomes said. “Also, through our research, we learned that the idea of social support as a means of aiding recovery after trauma is substantiated by a growing body of research. Studies that have investigated the effect of environmental factors on post-traumatic healing have often found social support to be most correlated to positive life change. Sharing stories and talking to other supportive survivors about the traumatic events of the past can be considered an ‘active approach-oriented coping strategy’ which facilitate recovery. By building an anonymous tool where survivors could be heard, believed, and supported we feel there is a direct opportunity to provide community to survivors and create a wave of change.”

Our Wave’s recent study was conducted to better understand survivor coping strategies and mechanisms to improve the organization’s understanding and to design a more impactful website that fits the needs of the community. Through this anonymous study, 42 percent of the participants self-selected association with the LGBTQ community. “We believe that sexual assault directly impacts all sub-groups but specifically think there is an opportunity to represent LGBTQ+ survivors in sharing their stories and taking part in a community of healing,” Gomes added.

The core team is comprised of nine volunteers, one of whom identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, who are all working with their diverse backgrounds and skillsets to build an online platform where survivors can “safely share their experiences and build a foundation to help the community move forward.” Our Wave has also been consulting therapists, lawyers and other active organizations focused on helping survivors to build a platform that leads with “empathy and understanding.” Our Wave is lead by Kyle Linton.

info: ourwave.org.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.