General Services Foundation
BYO Self-Defense Keychains
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
***TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post contains information about sexual violence. If you are not comfortable with reading about this topic, please click away or read any other one of our blog posts!***
Written by: Krisha Patel
Many women around Wake County don’t feel safe walking and going somewhere alone at night because of the many possible risks. The question that understandably arises, as a result, is why should women be afraid of doing simple things that any man can do without that worry? This is the problem our members, Riya Ramnath, Sonali Sehgal, Shayna Patel, and Sonali Ratnasinghe, were trying to solve. These four members wanted to make a difference. They wished to help women and girls everywhere in Wake County feel safe and have a way to protect themselves. Thus, came the inspiration for the “Build Your Own Self-Defense KeyChains” project. Our members partnered with InterAct, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the cycle of domestic and sexual violence in Wake County, North Carolina. They save lives, rebuild lives, and secure safer futures for victims, survivors, and their families. InterAct is an amazing nonprofit that fits our member’s needs perfectly. Sonali Sehgal, a spokesperson and participant for this project says, “They [InterAct] were a local nonprofit that we were eager to work with before. Not only that, it supported a cause we were working for about women protecting themselves from danger and violence.” Our Executive Director, and participant in the project, Sonali Ratnasinghe also comments on this partnership. “It was super interesting that, first of all, you’re able to help the females feel more confident in themselves when you help them purchase a keychain. But it also goes to a similar cause that also has to do with domestic and sexual violence.”
Sonali Ratnasinghe has even done a sexual assault study in Wake County. Ratnasinghe contacted female students across 5 Wake County High Schools about their experience with sexual violence. The survey began in April 2021 and is still in progress. April is also known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Out of the 350 random students she has communicated with, only 175 responses came back. Out of those 175 students aged 15-19, an alarming 80% of those students have been harassed. Furthermore, 47% have been assaulted at least once in their lifetime. These are serious and startling statistics that showcase how widespread this issue is in Wake County. It raises the importance of the question: What can we do to help and lower these numbers?
Now we come to the logistics and process of this project. How did Riya Ramnath, Sonali Sehgal, Shayna Patel, and Sonali Ratnasinghe start raising money for InterAct?
While working on the Build Your Own Self-Defense Keychains, setting up the project required teamwork. “Finding the items for this project was indeed a team effort. We got the materials on Amazon and figured out those prices and marked it up a bit so we could make a profit to donate to InterAct,” Sehgal recalls. The promotion of this cause was also a major part of it. This included talking to other General Services Members and their family and friends about this project and taking advantage of social media about the keychains and the money they can raise. However, just like anything in life, not everything goes the way you planned. While the girls were getting buyers, there were many obstacles and rejections too. “The promotions were successful, we had buyers, but there were rejections in many ways. Not everyone wanted one, and so we had to work even harder to spread the word,” states Sehgal. Even though there were many travails, the girls persisted. Many of them had fun and felt they had made a difference. Their favorite part about this project? Giving the customer the keychain, so they were better protected and donating the money to InterAct. The “Build Your Own Self-Defense KeyChains” project has raised over $303.53 and counting! What an astounding accomplishment! Women around the county who now have this keychain, successfully feel they can protect themselves from the violence they face far too often.
If you wish to make a difference in women’s lives or possibly even buy the key chains yourself, head on over to the General Services Website to buy them! Remember all proceeds go to InterAct, a nonprofit dedicated to lowering sexual assault and violence on women in Wake County.
If you or someone you know needs assistance or is dealing with sexual assault or domestic violence, do not hesitate to contact InterAct. They would do anything, and everything, to help.
Want to take part and start your project or drive that's by the community and for the community, as our members did here? Join General Services! If you happen to already be a member, contact the Executive Board to get started.