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Student group aims to assist victims of rape

Jennifer Herrera said she wants to help students who are rape and abuse victims to not fear talking about their experiences.

RAINNdrops, which was founded by, Jennifer Herrera, the group's president in the fall, is a local chartered affiliate of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and provides a place for any student, male or female, to go for help.

Herrera said RAINNdrops was created in reaction to several on-campus rapes, including the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl on the UNM campus in late July.

"It was a wake up call that this girl was walking in broad daylight through our campus on a busy street and she was not safe," she said. "And I think sometimes the University tries to sweep under the rug occurrences about rape and abuse because it's bad business."

Herrera said the second purpose of RAINNdrops is to raise money for RAINN. She said the network was co-founded in 1994 by singer/songwriter Tori Amos.

She said Amos, who was raped by a fan whom she gave a ride home after one of her concerts, went public about her experience after she released the song "Me and a Gun" on her 1991 record Little Earthquakes.

She said Amos was overwhelmed by people at her concerts trying to talk to her about their experiences.

"She knew the song was a healing song, but she wasn't a trained counselor," Herrera said.

She said Amos then helped form RAINN by reaching out to her record label, Atlantic Records, which provided money for the creation of the RAINN hotline. She said the national hotline has more than 1,000 trained counselors on call 24 hours a day and calls are confidential and free.

"If a person is raped on vacation in Florida, they can call RAINN immediately and be connected with a crisis center nearest them in Florida," Herrera said.

She said the hotline is for victims or victims' families for any type of abuse, which includes sexual assault or any kind of intrusion.

Herrera said it was important to form a UNM chapter because no place is safe against rape, and the group wants to start a dialogue between victims and the University. She said many rapes are not reported because of fear.

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She said meetings, which have been held since last semester, are confidential. Herrera added that sometimes the people who attend don't talk about their experiences and just go to check it out, but other times they share what they have gone through.

Herrera said her biggest concern is the lack of understanding UNM students have about rape. She said many victims have been virtually ignored by the University, even though places like fraternity houses and residence halls are catalysts for many rapes that occur on campus.

"I wish students didn't have so much apathy toward it," she said.

She said RAINNdrops is now working on the Run for Rain fund-raiser, which is a six-mile walk to raise money for the national hotline. Herrera said people who participate in the walk find a sponsor to pay for every mile covered.

The number for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network is 1-800-656-HOPE and those interested in RAINNdrops can e-mail the group at

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