Q&A: A Voice for the Innocent
Interview and words by: Arica Waters
A Voice for the Innocent is a non-profit organization geared towards educating, supporting and motivating survivors of abuse whether sexual or not and giving support to those who may have not experienced such traumatic experiences. We sat down with the Founder and President Jamie Sivrais to talk about this upcoming year.
Who is the founder of A Voice for the Innocent?
Jamie Sivrais: I am the founder and the Vice President. Eric Bomb has been there since day one. He has a business mind, [we’re] co-founders more or less.
What were the motivations behind starting AVFTI?
JS: When I came out of the situation as a kid, I was surrounded by so many people that valued me, my family members, church members and a support system. I felt I wasn’t at fault and knew that. This was an idea I had two to three years prior to me launching it. As you can see on Twitter, we started in 2009 [on Twitter]. I felt like I had to do [it]. I had no idea how to run a non-profit. I wasn’t going out to be a rockstar, but I still love the scene. The combo of never being scared to tell my story and having love for the scene just worked.
What did you want people to think?
JS: Letting people know that if they have a story that they can have the same support system I had, even if it’s not my same support system. We need people who have not been hurt to support others. Sexual violence is a taboo topic to talk about.
Why Warped Tour?
JS: Warped Tour is the extension of the world I knew. In 2015, there was a lot of controversy. Kevin Lyman put out a statement asking about organizations that have affiliation with sexual harassment etc. We got connected and had a discussion like a month before Warped Tour started. We were able to do 11 dates. We offered to do a class that discussed: thinking decisions through when engaging in sex (we are pro sex), talking with bands about their presence and their reasons for being on Warped Tour. People listen to the lyrics. [We want to] do more with workshops and [have]more [involvement]with parents.
Was age a factor in Warped Tour?
JS: Not necessarily a factor. We have a 16-25 [year old]female target audience. Rape crisis centers are a 45-year-old woman’s place and a younger crowd doesn’t resonate with them. We want a place that is accessible whether that’s branding. Music makes a lot of people comfortable.
JS: We are victim focused. We don’t have to agree about all the big cases you see. We don’t have to agree on who has fans. We don’t talk about the assailants. We have talked about Brock Turner as far as his sentence. In regards to Warped Tour specifically some bands have had their allegations. For example, Falling in Reverse has their allegations but we aren’t there for them we are there for their victims. 1 out of 3 of those girls will have faced sexual violence. We talked about Hilary [Clinton] and Donald [Trump] and people unfollowed us for being political. We got a little pushback about mentioning Bill Cosby as well. We try to meet pushback gracefully.
Any surreal moments?
JS: I was meeting with Kevin Lyman backstage. We sat down [with Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail]and talked and we had a great talk. [We] sponsored a tour with Silverstein [and Senses Fail]. Less Than Jake held one of our shirts [at a show]. Silent Planet has been getting big and they have always been a supporter for us. [I] met Good Charlotte when I was 15 and got to talk to them [last] summer and they remembered the story I told them 15 years ago.
JS: Warped tour could be all we do. We’ve had no hiccups, but it felt like we stumbled on the last Warped Tour. We know a little more [now]and what it looks like on off days. We have been looking on a project that expands out to college campuses. There seems to be a lack in standing for sexual assault victims. I know there are students who can provide support for those.
Any final words?
JS: It can be easy to feel like no one understands what you’ve gone through. I would like people to know that’s not true and as isolating as it can be there are people who do support you. They can be found on our site. You can share your story and connect with others. You can be hooked up with additional resources such as counseling and support groups. Set people on a path that makes sense for them. It’s free, anonymous and easy.
For more information on Warped Tour, click here.