Academy Award nominated actress Viola Davis lent her voice to raise awareness about rape and the sexual abuse of children by hosting the annual brunch to benefit the Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center on Sunday October 14, at Greenacres in Beverly Hills.
The event honored American television icon writer and producer Norman Lear while spotlighting the RTC’s national leadership in advancing the care of rape victims and sexually abused children, establishing model prevention programs, advocating for victims’ rights, and changing the nation’s consciousness about rape.
RTC Director Gail Abarbanel welcomed host Viola Davis and honoree Norman Lear, along with Rape Foundation Board Members David Schwimmer and John Varvatos. Eric McCormack, Jayma Mays, Sophia Bush, KaDee Strickland, Jason Ritter, Jacqueline Emerson, Matt Lanter and Tamara Taylor were among the almost 800 guests in attendance.
David Schwimmer opened the afternoon by introducing host Viola Davis, who addressed the crowd with a powerful and heartfelt speech praising the RTC for its work in the treatment and care of rape victims and sexually abused children. RTC Director Gail Abarbanel introduced the afternoon’s honoree Norman Lear who spoke about his commitment to the Center that began in 1977. Clients of the RTC and Stuart House also spoke, sharing personal experiences with sexual assault and of finding hope and healing at the RTC.
RTC Director Gail Abarbanel spoke of Stuart House, the RTC’s internationally recognized model program for sexually abused children. Through this unique multi-agency program, the RTC provides comprehensive psychological, medical and advocacy services for child victims in a therapeutic environment designed to make children feel welcome and safe. Stuart House is a public/private partnership that brings together in one facility police, prosecutors, and child protective services workers and child forensic interview specialists to facilitate investigations and prosecutions of child sexual abuse cases.
Viola Davis’ work with the Rape Treatment Center arose from her portrayal of a rape victim counselor in the film “Trust,” directed by Rape Foundation Board Member David Schwimmer. Davis spent time at the Rape Treatment Center and collaborated with the staff in preparation for her role in the film.
Event honoree Norman Lear is a pioneering male voice advocating for victims of rape. His contributions began in 1977 when he created an unforgettable episode of All in the Family in which the beloved character, Edith Bunker, was confronted by a rapist. The Emmy Award-winning, one-hour special, “Edith’s 50th Birthday,” reached forty million people and forever changed the nation’s consciousness about rape.
Norman continues to stand up for rape victims, lending his voice and talents as a dedicated Rape Treatment Center Board member. He has taken the stage at countless events to educate and raise money for RTC services and programs. He also helped build Stuart House, the Rape Treatment Center’s model program for child victims. His guidance and example have been invaluable in changing discriminatory attitudes towards rape victims and inspired other men to stand up.
The Rape Treatment Center (RTC) is nationally recognized for its exemplary treatment, prevention, and education programs and for bringing justice and compassionate care to victims. The RTC’s accomplishments include giving expert, free services to more than 50,000 rape victims, including 24-hour emergency medical care, counseling, advocacy and legal assistance; training police, prosecutors, judges and medical personnel nationwide; providing prevention programs in high schools and middle schools; establishing a national campaign to reduce the incidence of rape on college campuses; and producing award-winning educational films and books. The RTC also created Stuart House, an internationally recognized model facility serving child victims and the Verna Harrah Clinic, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to providing emergency medical care, forensic services, and psychological support for rape victims – children and adults – 24 hours a day.