Child sexual abuse is hard to talk about. And its secrecy perpetuates the isolation survivors can feel.
Thanks to recent movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up, communities nationwide are learning to engage more openly and productively with issues of abuse and harassment. Even so, the stigma around abuse—and particularly child sexual abuse—persists. The methods used by past campaigns are a large part of the problem: traumatic imagery is often used to shock the viewer and cause a reaction. But beyond demonstrating insensitivity to survivors, tactics like these fail to result in real, meaningful engagement. They disempower potential supporters and keep the conversation around child abuse in the shadows—perpetuating the stigma rather than ending it.
So, recognizing that a shift in the public conversation around child abuse must occur, the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) partnered with us to develop and execute a new approach to advocacy for survivors. The National Children’s Alliance (NCA) jumped on board, and it became a national campaign. The SHINE campaign, built on a fundamental belief in the capacity of survivors to lead rich and fulfilling lives, spotlights the resilience of survivors, activates and empowers an expansive network of allies, and, ultimately, helps survivors SHINE.
Process & Outputs
Next, with the foundation for SHINE in place, we executed a storytelling campaign
highlighting the resilience of survivors on social media and, at the same time,
participated in a statewide point-of-sale campaign with Tudor’s Biscuit World. We also
established a digital fundraising platform linking 21 local Children’s Advocacy Centers
(CACs)—and engaging a statewide network of supporters—to fundraise for SHINE
during the course of the campaign.
We officially launched the national SHINE campaign in West Virginia at a major WVCAN
conference. At this launch event, we premiered a video that we had produced featuring
allies of survivors who had already made the decision to join the SHINE campaign,
adding their light to the “universe of support.”
The SHINE campaign has succeeded in doing more than raise awareness around the issue of child abuse. It has created a “universe of support” through which allies and survivors are able to share their light, and inspire others to do the same.
SHINE’s success could be measured in many different ways: the amount of money it has raised, the number of new donors it has cultivated, the number of states and local CACs that have chosen to adopt it. Yet, the most valuable outcome of the campaign is, without question, the expansive network of advocates that it has built—and the language and tools it has given them to become more effective in their advocacy. SHINE empowers everyday people to be a resource for survivors, and it does so via messages of hope rather than ones of fear. By shifting the focus to the strength of survivors, SHINE is positively transforming discussions about child abuse and helping diminish the stigma around them.
“When they dreamed up the SHINE Campaign, 84 Agency didn’t look at it as a way to solve a problem for a nonprofit—they looked at it as a way to fix a problem with the world. They looked not only to their own passion to build a more just, kinder world, but also to the key moments in history where our forebears actually made it happen, and then bottled that lightning. Not everyone is ready for our message just yet, but for those who are, I’ve never seen people so thoroughly consumed with zeal to effect the change promised by a simple idea.”
– Blake Warenik, Director of Communications, National Children’s Alliance