"I am an oral deaf woman and I don't know ASL. I have been deaf my entire life, using a combination of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and speech reading to function in a hearing world. I can use the phone but it isn't my preferred method of communication. People who have known me for years can sometimes struggle to understand me, even more so when I'm upset. And it is struggle to understand people on the phone, especially if I'm tired, upset, or if they have an unfamiliar accent.
I especially dislike hotlines. I have a fear of having the police called on me and having a wellness check or forced ER trip for a psych eval against my wishes, when all I needed is someone to listen to me. Hotlines tend to seem like they just want to get you off the phone so they can take the next caller - or I'm too afraid to say much for fear the police will be called. There is too much room for misunderstanding, miscommunication, and error.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. My father was my abuser and my family hasn't been supportive. I am estranged from them at this time to give me a chance at living, but it is still hard.
I am very fortunate that I now have a therapist and psychiatrist who are very good at getting in touch with me when I need them. However, for years this wasn't the case and I refused to call our local mental health hotline. All they would ask was if I needed to be evaluated at the ER for inpatient, it didn't matter what I said or why I was calling. They had no desire to talk, which is what they were supposed to be doing!
This is where the rainn.org web based text chat came into play and meant so much to me. It was a safe way for me to connect to needed support, in a manner that accommodated my disability. It was a way for me to get help and support that I needed. I felt safe and validated. Many times it was a way to help me hold on and feel less alone until I could connect with someone in my support network. Other times it was all I had and it was enough to keep me here.
I am so grateful to have had the web based chat available to me through RAINN even before it was more of a mainstream option on other sites. I appreciate that even when there where no good answers to be found, the person on the other end would just be there with me. Sometimes that's all anyone can do. Not seeing or hearing panic in another person's response is huge - because I have tried so much and people tend to get overwhelmed when they see how much I have already tried to do.
I haven't needed to use it in recent years but I am so grateful to know it is there for me if I need it again."
- RAINN Speaker's Bureau Member*
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