Rachel Yee helps women heal after sexual assault
With all her heart, Rachel Yee believes in the strength of women. So for six hours each week, she staffs the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center's (BARCC) hotline, helping victims of sexual assault begin and complete the healing process. "Volunteering for BARCC gives me the chance to put my faith in the resiliency of women into action by supporting them," she says with passion. "Bearing witness to women transcending brutality provides me with hope for the future, and being a link in the chain makes me feel connected."
Yee, 29, who's been married for six years to Tom, began volunteering with BARCC as preparation for an internship in conjunction with her studies at Lesley College, where she is pursuing a Master's degree in counseling psychology. Although she completed that internship, Yee continues to volunteer at the center, and has learned much in the process. "Before I started volunteering," she recalls, "I felt immune to the danger (of rape) because of my size, but I've learned all women can be victimized by this crime-and more importantly, can go on to be survivors."
Indeed, BARCC is committed to serving all women, and has developed comprehensive bilingual and multicultural services to do so. Their 24-hour hotline received over 10,000 calls last year, and over 300 clients participated in counseling. In addition, 2,400 people participated in educational workshops, and over 100 clients received assistance in accessing medical care or legal support. Yee appreciates the tools she has at her disposal to help hotline callers. "There is a wide range of information I can provide," she says, "such as medical resources, counseling resources, legal resources, and information about specialized services for various populations, such as the homeless, incest survivors, and child and adolescent survivors." She adds, "For me, the central message I'm trying to convey is, 'You're not alone.'"
Yee recalls with satisfaction one client in particular who benefited from her support. A college student who had been impregnated during a rape perpetrated by her boyfriend called the hotline the day before a doctor's appointment. Although she'd split from her boyfriend, he had threatened her and said he was going to show up at the appointment. The client was scared about her safety and confused about whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. Yee responded by helping the student work out a safety plan, and in the process, empowering her to make her own decisions. "I was able to get her to commit to calling the doctor and changing the time of the appointment, having her friends come with her and informing the staff that her potentially dangerous ex-boyfriend might arrive." In addition, she says, "I referred her to other agencies that could help with her decision about keeping the baby."
While she's anticipating her graduation in May, and in her spare time is taking a class in sign language and loves to perform in musical theater, Yee plans to continue volunteering with BARCC. "I believe this work is special, because rape can be a kind of soul death. It's an honor to be part of the healing process."