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We support the survivors

Let's not dance around it: we addressed a very heavy topic this week in our cover story this week .

When we first heard about The Clean Slate Diaries, we knew the concept was unusual. The idea is different from the typical fundraising and awareness events -- the 5K run/walks, the $120-plate galas, the ribbon sales, etc.

Naturally, we wanted to know more about the event, the organizers, the goals.

That's how we learned about Renee

DeVesty's personal struggle with the physical and psychological trauma of rape.

Did you have the same reaction we did? Did you want to turn away, find something more pleasant to read? Did you get cold chills, too?

We knew Renee's story deserved to be told because it was a story that, frankly, we didn't want to hear.

It made us uncomfortable.

It made us sick.

It made us question why we treat victims of these crimes the way we do, and how we could help in creating a dialogue about a topic that nobody truly wants to talk about.

The Clean Slate Diaries will bring together survivors of rape, sexual assault and incest with the community members who support them in their struggle to regain a sense of self-worth and purpose and overcome the fear and shame. Instead of dividing "the afflicted" and "the charitable" into separate groups, this event introduces the two. It gives each side an identity beyond their label.

That's a start. It won't be easy; as the Vera House's Jolie Scarantino agreed, it won't happen overnight.

But when we come up against a topic that almost noboby wants to openly talk about, our first question should be, "why?"

We don't want to talk about it because of what it says about us, as a community, that these things can to happen. But talking about it will help break down the fear, guilt and shame that survivors of rape, sexual assault and incest feel. Take away the fear, and survivors will be more willing to report their attackers.

If we can increase the likelihood of being reported, we can reduce the occurrences of these types of crimes.

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