Executive Director Erin Walton on Rape Victim Advocates' Rebranding to Resilience

Rape Victim Advocates rebrands as Resilience

As of August 1, 2018, Chicago’s largest rape crisis center has rebranded as Resilience. The organization known as Rape Victim Advocates for more than four decades still provides free advocacy services for victims of sexual assault and public education about sexual violence and with a new name, it hopes to expand people’s ideas about who they are and what they do.

Rebellious Magazine spoke with Erin Walton, executive director of Resilience, to learn more about the name change.

“Rape Victims’ Advocates” is such a telling, simple description of what the organization provides – advocates for rape victims at the hospital following an assault. What informed the decision to rebrand?

Our organization has come a long way in 44 years when our original agenda was to believe and be present for survivors we met in hospital emergency rooms. Today, our services have expanded to address the entire spectrum of sexual violence, from crisis intervention, advocacy and counseling, to prevention education, public awareness and to have impact on public policy. So as our services have expanded, we wanted to rebrand to a name that reflects a broader scope of who we are. 

That makes sense. There’s a lot of work you do that I didn’t even know about, like the free counseling services and addressing public policies. Do you think that the new name will draw more people in to learn about your services?

Our objectives were to refine our purpose, expand our visibility in the community and enlarge our vision of tomorrow, all to advance our ultimate goal: [to] empower survivors and end sexual violence.

It’s rare for an organization that has been around as long as Resilience to choose a new name. Was it a difficult process to come to a consensus about this decision?

Change rarely, if ever, comes without challenge. For us, this was nearly a year-long process.

Once it was decided a change had to be made, how was the rebranding accomplished?

We began with a task force of stakeholders that formed to lead the effort. We reached out to our community partners and friends and ultimately selected a marketing partner that we felt comprehended our mission and vision and could help us articulate our brand in a fresh new way.

Why the name Resilience?

Healing and empowerment from sexual violence is an ongoing journey, with no predetermined time or state of closure. Our new name honors that journey and the strength of those on their path of recovery. Resilience is strength, resolve and determination. It is the resilience of those we serve, in the face of adversity, that inspires us. 

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, please call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or, if you are located in Chicago, call the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline at 1-888-293-2080. To learn more about Resilience, or to contribute your time or donations to helping end sexual violence, visit www.OurResilience.org.

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