Each month, RAINN features a member of its National Leadership Council (NLC). The NLC is a group of dedicated individuals who have shown their commitment to RAINN’s mission of supporting survivors and ending sexual violence. This month we checked in with Janet Jensen, founder and CEO of the Human Investment Foundation, The Jensen Project, and Enjen.
Why are you passionate about ending sexual violence and why should everyone be?
As a survivor of a violent rape, I know first-hand the havoc that sexual violence has on an individual and those closest to them. After my attack, many of my daily habits changed due to my internal heightened alerts. It took me over 10 years to park in a parking garage, even though that wasn’t the location of my attack. I was afraid of putting myself in a vulnerable position where I could be attacked again. Sexual violence is an issue of safety and human rights. Everyone deserves the right to go through life without unjust fear.
How can we all be better supporters and advocates for survivors in our lives?
It is on all of us to create an environment of empathy and compassion. Be willing to listen. Be less judgmental. Be willing to help direct survivors to resources that are available.
What is your message to survivors?
It takes tremendous courage to come forward. The best words that need to come out of our mouths is “I believe you.” In my personal experience, I had one less obstacle from belief because I was brutally beaten. Not everyone’s wounds are visible, but that shouldn’t speak to whether or not we believe survivors. Physical wounds heal much faster than the mental or emotional ones. It’s a heavy burden to settle into life after someone has violated you. That’s why resources like RAINN exist to help.
How do you wish Americans would change sexual violence prevention?
We need society to prioritize prevention. We need more men to speak out and be positive role models. Great programs do exist, but they’re not getting in front of Americans fast enough or at an early enough age. This needs to be a central issue that we’re putting into a plan to teach adolescents prevention at warp-speed.
Why did you want to be a part of RAINN’s National Leadership Council?
RAINN has been a leader in the field of sexual violence education and prevention for 25 years. I am honored to be in such company.
How has your passion for ending sexual violence influenced other areas of your life?
My passion for ending sexual violence has spilled over into all areas of my life. Ever since my attack 36 years ago, I’ve devoted my life to the education and awareness of sexual violence and cultivated an environment of empathy, compassion, and trust for survivors. Through partnerships, I’ve supported many survivors, I’ve been a public speaker, and I operate my foundation full-time.
What goals are you most excited about working toward in The Jensen Project right now?
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” We’re at a critical moment in society. At The Jensen Project—the nonprofit organization I founded focused on fueling strong partnerships in the fight against sexual violence—we’re empowered to make change and grow for the better. There is much excitement in being part of the solution to end sexual violence. The more agile we can be to figuring out solutions to these problems, the faster we will solve them. We are extremely agile and are actively searching for creative partnerships.