We will try to address your concerns and answer questions about Speak Up! in this section. If you have more questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Speak Up!?
Speak Up! is a safe place for survivors of sexual violence of all gender, ages, ability, and background to safely share their stories and experiences with the rest of the world as a form of helping the fight against sexual violence while embarking on the healing journey. The primary target group is Gambians (people from the Republic of the Gambia), but as sexual violence and its impact is universal, any survivor is welcome to share their story. Stories are generally shared anonymously but you can chose to share publicly.
How is Speak Up! different from GARM
Speak Up! is really not different from GARM. It is set up as a separate, clutter-free platform to focus on survivors and how they can help each other heal, help raise awareness on sexual violence in The Gambia and help break the silence and remove the taboo.
Are all these stories real?
All the stories on this site are posted by users. Speak Up! and/or GARM is not responsible for the stories shared here. We do not, will not and cannot verify the accuracy of stories shared on this site. We ask people using the site to honor our guidelines which include making sure the stories are theirs to share and are factual. We do review all stories before they are published and will try to use our best judgement before allowing it to be posted
Why should I share my story?
Speaking up as a survivor of sexual violence is no doubt a difficult act yet this act has the power to heal and change on a broader scale than you may know.
By sharing your story, you move from being a victim to being a survivor. A victim feels alone, shamed, damaged, violates, hopeless, is depressed, has low self esteem and many negative thoughts and behavior while a survivor finds a way to heal, seeks help, learns to shed the shame and stigma, believes it was not their fault, feels deserving, is unbreakable and will thrive. Sharing helps victims destroy the forces that have harmed and hurt them and is one of the best ways to fight back.
Sexual violence and its impacts flourish in an atmosphere of secrecy, silence and taboo and speaking up brings it into the light. Survivors who speak up help break the silence that surrounds this crime and your courageous act can end the false sense of shame that survivors often carry.
Sharing your story raises awareness which helps in preventing others from having to go through this horrible experience. You have the power to change someone’s life forever!
Survivors speaking up has brought about legal change in nations and internationally and in advocating for intolerance for this crime across all communities. Your story can will help in changing attitudes on sexual violence, policies and laws in the Gambia
- How else will my story be used?
Your story can also be used by GARM, its collaborators, sponsors and funders as informational and promotional material in the media, awareness activities and programs such as brochures, advertisements, media packages etc.
- What do I need to know before I share my story?
Your own comfort level and safety are more important that anyone else’s so make sure you are comfortable and ready to share your story before you press submit.
Sharing your story is not an automatic and easy path to healing or even helping others. It can cause trauma as negative thoughts and feeling that may have been buried may be triggered. You may want to have a supportive system around you for after sharing your story.family, friends, professionals and/or other survivors to help you talk about and deal with your issues that come up.
Sharing your name is your decision but if you decide to speak up publicly, it can be helpful to talk to loved ones first as they too are survivors and your actions may trigger their issues as well.
Once your story is published on the website, it becomes public information beyond our control and anyone with access to the Internet can access it, share it, republish it etc. Even if the post is deleted from our website, it can still be available somewhere else on the Internet or in print
- Do I have to identify myself to share my story?
No, you do not but you do have the option to do so. Before you do, check out What do I need to know before I share my story?
- Do I have to use real names?
If you decide to share publicly i.e use a name, you must use your real name otherwise your story can be rejected. If in your story you wish to use names of offenders, family, witnesses etc, we ask that you use pseudo names different from their real names as these people have not agreed to our terms and conditions
- Will my identity ever be revealed?
No. We do not collect any personal data unless you choose to share your name publicly. Even then, you can always request that your name be removed at a later date
- How long will my story be on this site?
As long as you want it to be published
- Can I request for my story to be removed from this website?
Yes. Just contact us with the secret code that was given to you at the time of submission and your story will be removed within 48 hours of your request
- How long will it take for my story to appear on this site after I submit it?
All submitted stories will be reviewed within 24 - 48 business hours and accepted if they meet our guidelines or rejected if they dont. We know what it takes to make the decision to share your stories and it means a lot to us thus we will do the best we can to make sure all stories are given proper consideration before rejecting Unfortunately, because we do not collect or keep any personal information, you will not get a notification if your story is rejected but you can contact us to find out after 72 hours of submitting.
- What if I change my mind after submitting my story?
If you change your mind, contact us immediately with the secret key that you were provided with and we will reject the story if it hasn’t been shared yet or we will delete it immediately upon receipt of your instructions if it has already been shared
- I submitted my story but do not see it here. What happened?
See How long will it take for my story to appear on this site after I submit it? If this doesn’t answer your question, please contact us
- Can I submit someone else’s story?
- Can I contact other survivors/victims who have shared their stories here?
Generally no but if someone shares their contact information within their story, you can try reaching them that way
- Are you sexual violence experts or counselors?
All GARM and Speak Up! volunteers will receive some type of basic training on issues related to sexual violence - how to help victims and survivors, effectively deal with them and the general public and educated in preventative measures. It is our goal to seek and maintain professionally trained experts and/or counselors among our pool of volunteers who will be able to help if professional intervention is needed. We cannot however guarantee that someone will be available at all times.
- I have shared my story, now what?
First, we say thank you on our behalf and on behalf of everyone out there for helping us break the silence to raise awareness about sexual violence in the Gambia; for helping victims and survivors find a community where they can begin to heal and thrive; and helping in our collective efforts to prevent such crimes from happening to others
I need help. What should I do?
At this time, Speak Up! or GARM is not in a position to offer support services during a crisis as we are still in the process of setting up. If you have a physical trauma such as heavy bleeding or are in a lot of pain or believe you need immediate medical attention, we recommend that you go to the nearest hospital to get medical attention. If you wish to report the crime, please contact a Police Station nearest to you.
If you are a minor, i.e under 18 years of age, you can contact the following organizations in the Gambia for help:
- Child Protection Alliance
- APAP International
We also recommend that you try and talk to someone you know you can trust in such a situation.
- What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence including: children, teens, adults, and elders.
Forms of sexual violence include:
- Rape or sexual assault
- Child sexual assault and incest
- Intimate partner sexual assault
- Unwanted sexual contact/touching
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual exploitation
- Showing one's genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
- Masturbating in public
- Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission
- What are the effects of sexual violence?
Physical force is not necessarily used in rape, and physical injuries are not always a consequence. Deaths associated with rape are known to occur either at the hands of the perpetrator or victim committing suicide although the prevalence of fatalities is not very common in Gambia. Among the more common consequences of sexual violence are those related to reproductive (gynaecological, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health and social wellbeing.
Why should I be concerned about sexual violence in the Gambia?
Everyone should be concerned about sexual violence in the Gambia because you or a loved one can be the next victim. Nobody can guarantee that sexual violence will not happen to them or a loved one. Anyone can fall victim, as the perpetrators mostly choose easily accessible targets without raising alert or being suspicious. . Perpetrators could be anyone :the people you really know and trust or sometimes even family members. There are cases where fathers/mothers are raping/molesting their own daughters/sons.
- How prevalent is sexual violence in the Gambia?
We do not know the answer to this. Reporting sexual violence crimes to the relevant authorities in the Gambia has been a rarity although we are happy (and horrified) by the fact that there are relatively more reports in the news media on almost a daily basis. However, there is no formal or central data collection organization that we are aware of that will help us attribute a numerical value to help answer the question. One of GARM's goals is to work with the relevant stakeholders to create a central database to record incidents of sexual violence in the Gambia
How can I contact GARM ?
The quickest way to contact us is to send us an email at email@example.com
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