Monday, November 16, 2009

Shannon Lambert for L'Oreal's WOMEN of WORTH

As a 15-year-old victim of acquaintance rape, Shannon Lambert felt isolated and scared. After four years of keeping her attack a secret, Shannon finally reached out online to seek help and eventually created a Web site telling her story. Shannon was asked to appear on 20/20 to share her story of healing and, in anticipation of abuse survivors seeing the show and needing support, Shannon started a small message board. This board eventually became Pandora’s Project, an online resource that connects survivors with others facing similar issues across the globe.

One of the best aspects of Pandora’s Project is that it is wide-reaching, providing support for the estimated one in six people who will experience rape or sexual abuse in their lifetime. The survivor-to-survivor support offered within the message board is vital, especially for people who live in rural areas and may not have access to conventional support groups. Pandora’s Project often serves as the first place for survivors to shed shame and truly talk about their experience, leading them to real help in their lives.

Pandora’s Project, funded entirely by donations, facilitates a chat room for its members, hosting guest speakers who share information and answer questions in their field of expertise. Survivors also have access to the lending library, a program that provides free books and DVDs via mail about healing from rape and sexual abuse to any survivor living in the United States. New in 2009, Pandora’s Project will host its first sexual violence recovery retreat to offer support and workshops on topics including stress relief and building intimacy in relationships. With Shannon’s successful fundraising, Pandora’s Project has been able to offer financial assistance to more than half of the attendees at this year’s retreat.

What started as a simple message board has transformed into Pandora’s Project, the largest international online sexual abuse survivor community, serving more than 20,000 survivors worldwide. That’s why Shannon is a 2009 Woman of Worth.

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