Advocates say sexual misconduct allegations have sparked local change

By John Krinjak

Email: jkrinjak@abc6.com

Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A record turnout at a fundraiser in Providence Friday night, aimed at ending sexual assault and domestic violence.

Local advocates say the national conversation about sexual misconduct–driven by allegations against celebrities and politicians–is helping to bring about positive change in our area.

Sojourner House’s annual masquerade ball is a fundraiser to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Friday night’s event sold out for the first time in its history.

"With everything going on in the news, I think that helped ticket sales immensely. I think people want to do something to help and this happened at just the right time," said Kitty Litter, a longtime Providence drag-queen and supporter of Sojourner House. 

Executive director Vanessa Volz says the huge uptick in victims coming forward has opened up a conversation here. 

"We’re seeing more people willing to talk about the issue. We’re seeing more victims coming forward, willing to seek help or talk about what they’ve experienced," said Volz.

But when it comes to allegations, like the one brought by former news anchor Heather Unruh that her teenage son was assaulted by Kevin Spacey on Nantucket last year, Volz says, "I’m not surprised when I hear of victims coming forward because these types of incidents happen to so many different types of people, and I think that’s something we’re starting to become more aware of, just the prevalence, how many people are affected."

Organizers say they’re seeing a shift away from victim-shaming and toward calling out predators.

But they stress there’s still plenty more work to do–locally and nationally–to reduce the rates of sexual violence. 

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017