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Let it RAINN

In Boston, 2002 might be dubbed, to put it rather crudely, the Year of the Rape. Ever since the priest sexual-abuse scandal roiling the Boston archdiocese exploded last January, the pages of the dailies have been filled with story after story about sexual assault. There were, for instance, the six high-school athletes who were arrested for raping four girls on the South Shore last January; the Massachusetts Superior Court judge who released four rapists while reportedly advising a 14-year-old rape victim to " just get over it " last February; and the two male stalkers who have been wreaking havoc in the Allston-Brighton and North End neighborhoods with a string of violent attacks against women. Greater Boston, it seems, has become a hotbed of abuse.

But then, these high-profile assaults just skim the surface when it comes to rape. According to the US Justice Department, one individual becomes a victim of sexual assault every two minutes in this country. That works out to 30 new rape victims every hour and 715 new rape victims every day. Only 28 percent of victims, though, ever bother to report their attacks to law-enforcement officials or counselors.

Next week, victims’-rights advocates hope to chip away at these latest trends and statistics by holding a benefit concert for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), the only toll-free rape-crisis hotline in the country. Given that sexual assault has dominated the local headlines, says concert organizer Bill Weston, " this event has taken on a whole new meaning for us. "

The RAINN hotline (800-656-HOPE) provides free counseling and support services to rape victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Victims who call the toll-free number are immediately connected to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), which helps area victims get medical attention, legal aid, or counseling. " One of RAINN’s big phrases is ‘Unlock the Silence,’ " Weston explains. People who have been sexually violated often don’t wish to discuss what has happened to them with anyone. RAINN is affiliated with BARCC (and 888 other rape-crisis centers), and its toll-free number allows victims, in his words, " to feel as if they’re totally anonymous. "

RAINN dates back to 1994, when pop superstar Tori Amos went on a concert tour around the country. Amos, whose music deals with her own rape experience and its emotional aftermath, found that young men and women everywhere were approaching her backstage and revealing their own tales of sexual assault. Inspired, she paired up with Atlantic Records to establish RAINN. Since then, the hotline has helped some 450,000 rape victims nationwide.

Weston, who calls himself " a big Tori fan, " and other local organizers hope the August 22 Boston benefit concert will raise tens of thousands of dollars for a cause that, he says, " almost everyone can relate to. " The show features a mix of local talent — in the form of rockers the Hirsh Project and folk duo Brian Webb & Rachel McCartney — and international acts, with Canada’s Emm Gryner, the pianist frequently compared to Sarah McLachlan, headlining. Another big attraction includes a charity auction of prized music memorabilia from Ani DiFranco, Dido, Alanis Morissette, and Melissa Etheridge. Amos fans have even donated what Weston calls " rare Tori stuff, " ranging from her latest CD, Strange Little Girls, to her earliest radio promotions.

Rock for RAINN, a benefit concert for the national rape-crisis hotline, will take place Thursday, August 22, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Matrix at the Roxy, 279 Tremont Street. Tickets are $15, and can be purchased by calling (800) 656-HOPE, ext. 3, or by checking out the Rock for RAINN Web site at

Issue Date: August 15 - 22, 2002
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