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Newly formed Montana group helping rape, sexual assault victims

Posted: 9:30 AM, Jun 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-25 11:30:53-04

MISSOULA – The #metoo movement is empowering victims of sexual assault to speak up and tell their stories.

A Montana group called “Jane Doe No More” is continuing to do that — giving a voice to survivors with the help and guidance from those who’ve been there.

“It’s just such an uncomfortable subject that no one wants to talk about, but it needs to be talked about,” Barb Jenkins said about the issue of rape.

As the woman who organized the Montana chapter of Jane Doe No More, she’s helping to empower victims of sexual assault.

“We have a voice and it needs to be heard. We need more people like us who are willing to step out and tell their stories about really tackle this subject,” Jenkins said.

“You know there’s lots of organizations out there, but this one is completely 100% survivor driven,” she added.

Barb Jenkins
Barb Jenkins has organized the Montana chapter of Jane Doe No More. (MTN News photo)

Jane Doe No More is a group that began in Connecticut with a mission is to empower survivors of sexual crimes to find their voice, advance their healing and educate others.

Jenkins found it while struggling with the after-effects of her own rape by a homeless man in Missoula.

“I actually was suicidal and was looking for something that could be supportive to me without making me feel like I had to stay in a victim mentality because it didn’t want to stay there,” she explained.

“It’s a very [a] positive, survivor-led, organization [that] focuses on…after the rape — the positive things we can do [to] make a change in our society because it’s such a huge problem.”

This organization also goes into schools with a program called the Safe Student initiative and has already had presentations at Missoula’s Sentinel and Big Sky-high schools.

Once, talking to men at a prerelease center, Jenkins told her story and got a disappointing response that to her, highlighted the reason this group exists.

Jane Doe No More produced a video called “Duty Trumps Doubt” to enhance training for first responders on the crimes of sexual violence.

The program also includes a self-defense class called escape alive and there’s a private Facebook page for victims to share their stories and find support.

Jane Doe No More
A Montana group — Jane Doe No More — is giving a voice to rape victims with the help and guidance from those who’ve been there. (MTN News photo)

This is the first chapter in Montana, as well as the first outside of Connecticut. In its two-year existence, it’s trained sexual assault survivors to be on the survivor speaking team.

It’s about stopping the rape culture, and Jenkins says, this is just the beginning.

“I would love to be able to get into more schools, I want to go to more cities, Great Falls, Kalispell,” Jenkins told MTN News.

“Every time that I have given this presentation, somebody has come to me and said ‘thanks, I needed that.’ You know, and they’ve disclosed their abuse to me — every time,” she concluded.

Jenkins also wrote a book about her experience with her sexual assault called “Burying Jane Doe”.

Members of the team will be running in this weekend’s Missoula Marathon. You can learn more about Jane Doe No More here or by finding them on Facebook .