Image: JDI

Here is your chance to do a very nice thing for the holiday season. It will not take much time at all. You can send some love to someone who will very much appreciate it.

Each year, the group Just Detention International collects holiday messages for survivors of prison rape. It only takes a minute to contribute your own message. We have been posting this campaign annually for years on Gawker and now on Splinter, and JDI tells us that you—our readers—are consistently one of the biggest sources for the holiday messages that they deliver. Perhaps you are all nicer than we thought. Thank you.

The group passes on these stories from those who received messages last year:

- An inmate at a dangerous prison in the south, Larry has been subjected to constant sexual harassment by staff. Two years earlier, an officer set him up to be raped. He was depressed when the holidays rolled around last year — but the flood of compassionate messages helped him get through it. “I sat back on my bunk and began reading all the messages,” Larry told JDI in a letter. “Halfway through I had to stop, because of the flood of tears streaming down my face from seeing these messages of pure love. After I finished reading all the cards, for the first time in over two months I was finally able to get a restful sleep.”

- Rachel (not her real name) is a survivor of multiple sexual assaults by a correction officer. The abuse was devastating and, worse still, she felt she had nowhere to turn for help. Rachel is doing better, and she feels indebted to the people who supported her over the holidays. “The cards came right when I needed them,” she wrote JDI. “It’s hard being behind bars, and harder still to deal with the abuse that I suffered. It helps to know that people like you care, and that I am not alone.”

— Last December was the first time in years that Mike — a survivor serving time in a large, troubled state prison — had received holiday cards. He worried that no one cared about him, or the plight of prisoners. That changed when he got an envelope filled with holiday cards. “I must say I felt deeply touched to know that there are people out there who are genuinely concerned about the fate of all those held in captivity,” he told JDI. “Thank goodness for human decency.”

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We all spend much of the year arguing, being mean, and thinking about ourselves. Here is an opportunity for all of us to send a thought out to those who risk being forgotten. Please take a moment to do so today. There but for the grace of god go any of us.

Happy holidays.

[JDI’s Words of Hope]