What is A Voice for the Innocent?

A Voice For The Innocent is a non-profit organization that provides a community of support for victims of sex crimes. We provide an online judgement-free outlet for people to anonymously share their stories, as well as gain and give support by interacting with other users who have similar experiences. You only need an email address to sign up for the site. Do you have a story to share? Visit our Tell Your Story page. Not sure yet? That’s okay. Read a Story to get a feel for how our community works.

Along with our online presence, a crucial part of our mission is to participate in community events and spread the word that we are here. Sex crimes are a silent plague. Victims are encouraged not to talk about it. People don’t want to discuss it because it is uncomfortable. We want to break down those social barriers and let people know that there is a place they can turn where they won’t be shamed, judged, or disbelieved.

Why do you do this?

The idea of the organization was conceived by Jamie Sivrais. Jamie was sexually abused by his father for three years when he was a kid. As a teenager and a young adult, he would tell his story, and learned that a great many people had stories too, and many of them felt like there was nowhere they could turn to talk about it, so they just kept it bottled up for years. You can read Jamie’s story here.

We are a group of people who have a passion for giving people an outlet. Not everyone on the AVFTI team is a victim of a sex crime, but all are adamant about giving a voice to those who are.

How can I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved with AVFTI. We have a volunteer program, where people give their time and effort for projects, research, and events with which we need help, and their commitment level is based solely on their availability and schedule. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, please fill out the Volunteer Application.

We also have a group of bands who have agreed to partner with us, spread our message, and help reach people. Are you in a band who likes free merch and wants to help an often overlooked cause? Feel free to fill out our Band Application.

If you’re not in a band and don’t have the time to be involved in the volunteer program, you can still help. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have been affected by sex crimes. Even if you don’t know it, you probably have someone in your life who has endured such an experience. Talk about us. Tell people who we are and what we do. Help spread our message via word of mouth, posting statuses on social media sites, or directing people to our website.

We are also 100% crowd funded, and as a non-profit organization, we don’t have a steady source of income. Donations are always extremely helpful and appreciated. You can make a donation via PayPal or you can Contact Us for an address to send a check or to make a credit card donation. Or, make a cash donation at one of our events.

We also sell merchandise which not only means that you get something in return for your donation, but it helps us spread our message through your advertising. If you’d like to see what items we currently have for sale, please visit our merch store.

Where do my donations go?

We are completely and totally sustained by donations. Neither the board of directors or any of our volunteers make any money off of the organization. Any money that you donate will go toward:

Creating and printing literature to hand out and assist in educating people at the events we attend.

  • Creating and ordering new merchandise, of which the money goes directly back into these causes.
  • Contracted services, meaning admission and booth fees at the events where we set up.
  • Advertising. Many nonprofits steer away from advertising, and it isn’t our main concern. But in an effort to make sure our message is heard by as many people as possible, we do advertise certain events.
  • Web hosting fees. This is a minimal cost, but it is still covered in the donations we receive.
  • Creating content. Some of our content is created by professional therapists and counselors. We don’t have a licensed therapist on our board of directors, and many of them can’t always work for free.
  • Postage and delivery fees, such as when we need to mail literature out to our bands.
  • Basic materials and supplies, such as candy for parades, poster boards for festivals and conventions, or items which will reasonably assist in our mission at events.

Travel. Occasionally we do travel out of town, and plan on doing more. While we are adamant about being as economical as possible when we travel, we don’t always have the money as individuals to cover the cost of gas for our out of town events.

All of our previous years’ financial records can be found on our About us page in the finances section.

How anonymous am I?

Your anonymity is our number one concern. We don’t ask for your name, age, or location when you sign up. You have to have an email and choose your own username. That’s it. It doesn’t matter to us if your email isn’t even your primary email. You can even make up an email address right before signing up for our site, as long as you can get into the inbox to confirm your registration.

We will absolutely never, ever ask for more information about your identity or location. If you choose to tell us, that’s okay. But it is absolutely not required.

Are there any rules about posting on your site?

We do have a few stipulations to which we adhere for moral and legal reasons.

  • Discussions about an open or ongoing court case in which you are involved are strictly prohibited. You’re welcome to come talk about it after the case is done, but it is illegal to discuss open cases and may hurt your case.
  • Naming your attacker or perpetrator by name if they have not been convicted is prohibited. You are welcome to discuss them, but either omit or change the name. Many people simply refer to someone simply as the first letter of their first or last name. Giving someone’s name and attaching it to this information, even if it is all true, is grounds for them to press charges for slander, both on you and on us. If they have already been convicted, then their crime is already public record and you are welcome to name them, if you choose.
  • If you volunteer your name, location, age, and the fact that your abuse or assaults are still taking place, we will report it to your local law enforcement if you are 18 years of age. We are not mandated reporters by the state, but we feel morally obligated to take whatever action we can if such information is volunteered.
  • Bullying, trolling, or any discussion which is simply intended to shame, perpetuate victimization, insinuate disbelief, or be cruel is strictly forbidden. We constantly monitor the site for such content, and any such comments will be removed and the user will be banned immediately with no questions asked. We are a place where healing begins, and there is no room for hatred or malicious intent.

Does telling your story help?

In most cases, people who have been through sexual abuse or rape will tell you that telling their story helped bring some relief. It is a huge burden to keep bottled up inside, and more often than not, a weight feels lifted off of their shoulders. With that said, it is important to realize that telling your story is not a cure-all. Any issues you may be dealing with as a result of sexual assault will not go away just because you’ve told your story. This is only a first step. You may open yourself up to unexpected emotional triggers when telling your story. Or in telling your story, you may begin to recall details you had once forgotten. The road to recovery is different for everybody, and it’s important to have a strong grasp of what will work for you.

Some people follow up telling their story with counseling. Others turn to family, friends, and loved ones. Some people tell their story on our site and never bring it up again. Being in tune with yourself is of great importance, and while it is a great thing to challenge yourself, don’t take on too much at once.

So, really we don’t have a solid answer for that question. Do YOU think telling your story will help? Many people think that it does. But it is up to you to decide. And when you decide, if your decision is to tell your story, we are here to listen.

Who is AVFTI trying to help?

We provide support to those affected by the crimes of rape and sex abuse. That support is not conditional upon your religion, race, nationality, political affiliation, sexual preference, gender identity, or any other grouping criteria. Also, victims of sexual assault are not the only ones affected. We are here to support them as well. Parents, friends, loved ones, spouses, significant others, siblings….the list goes on and on. These people are affected as well, and their story and struggles deserve to be heard as well.

Are you a religious organization?

The members of our organization all have varying and diverse beliefs when it comes to religion. That being said, we do not, as an organization have any affiliation with any sort of religious ideology. We work with people of all different faiths and those who don’t associate with any faith at all. Rape and sex abuse know no boundaries, so neither shall we.Some people follow up telling their story with counseling. Others turn to family, friends, and loved ones. Some people tell their story on our site and never bring it up again. Being in tune with yourself is of great importance, and while it is a great thing to challenge yourself, don’t take on too much at once.

So, really we don’t have a solid answer for that question. Do YOU think telling your story will help? Many people think that it does. But it is up to you to decide. And when you decide, if your decision is to tell your story, we are here to listen.

Do you get involved with politics?

We have chosen consciously to not involve ourselves in politics. We have a very specific purpose in providing support to those affected by rape and sex abuse. There are many wonderful organizations that engage politically on behalf of those issues and we believe in what they do. We have just chosen to make supporting people our primary focus.

Do I need to have a story to get involved?

Not at all. Not everyone that helps run AVFTI has one. If we’re to provide the support that’s needed, we need everyone to stand up and speak out. Even if you haven’t been personally affected, chances are you know someone who has. Everyone’s voice counts. As we like to often say, “you don’t have to have a story to have a voice”.

Is AVFTI just a website?

We are that and so much more! Aside from our mission in supporting those affected by rape and sex abuse, we also strive to inspire conversation around the subject. To that end, you’ll find us at many events around our hometown of Cincinnati, OH where, along with presenting ourselves to people in case there are possible silenced victims in the crowd, we also pass out literature and try to engage in conversation to raise awareness and inspire people to speak out in their own way and in their own social circles. We’ve been found everywhere from local fairs, to concerts, to comic book conventions. We strive to be wherever there are large groups of people.

Can I interview someone from AVFTI?

Send an email [email protected] or fill out the form on our Contact Page.

Can I write a guest blog post for AVFTI?

Send an email to [email protected] or fill out the form on our Contact Page.

Are sexual abuse and rape really that big of a problem?

In short, yes. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men are affected by rape or sexual abuse, according to the latest national studies. RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) has done an excellent job compiling information on sexual assaults, victims, offenders, and more.  Visit RAINN’s website to learn how common it is, and about some of the struggles victims face.