Through her RAINN network, this soulful pop
singer helps rape victims find a path to healing
More interviews by Marianne Schnall
When singer Tori Amos wrote the song "Me and A Gun" (from her breakthrough album, Little Earthquakes), she was trying to come to terms withh a personal experience that had occurred in her life a few years earlier - being raped. What Amos did not anticipate, however, was the profound effect the song would have on its listeners, a number of whom turned out to be victims of sexual assault themselves."I got so many letters from young women. And then on the tour, on the way out the door, in every single town, all these young girls - they would pass me a letter, whisper a story - tears running down their faces," she recalls.
Knowing that she didn't have the training to help these women herself, she sought out the guidance of the D.C. Rape Crisis Center in Washington. Together they came up with the idea of a national hotline, and Amos convinced her record company, Atlantic Records, and the Warner Music Group to provide the initial funding for the project. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) operates a nation-wide, toll-free hotline (800-656-HOPE) that automatically connects callers to the rape crisis center nearest to them. Now victims of sexual assault can reach a trained rape crisis counselor from anywhere in the country and receive free, confidential counseling 24 hours a day and approximately 50,000 calls come through the hotline every year.
As Amos herself knows, reaching out for help is the first step in recovery. "A lot of times you shut your whole heart off from your experience; you close the door, and you wither and die,"she says. "My hope is that the telephone line can be a bridge to the next step." - Marianne Schnall
For more information: RAINN, 252 10th Street N.E., Washington DC 20002; 202-544-1034, www.rainn.org
Photos: On a break from her Boys For Pele tour, Tori Amos stopped by the D.C. Rape Crisis Center to lend a hand to volunteers (from left) Eli Kimaro, Jen Cromwell and Maria Chavez.
©Marianne Schnall. No portion of this article may be reprinted without permission of Marianne Schnall . This article originally appeared in In Style Magazine.
Marianne Schnall is a a free-lance writer and co-founder of the web sites EcoMall.com and Feminist.com.