Friday, March 24, 2017
Students and employees from Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Health and VCU Police assembled 230 aftercare kits for child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and sex-trafficking survivors at the fifth annual VCU Fear 2 Freedom Celebration Event on March 21.
The kits — containing toiletries, clothing, a teddy bear and handwritten notes of encouragement — are a gift of hope and provide survivors of abuse a sense of dignity and assurance that they are not alone. More than 50 students, police officers, nurses and doctors volunteered to pack items into nylon drawstring backpacks at the event. Once assembled, volunteers held a moment of silence and loaded the backpacks into an ambulance to be delivered to VCU Medical Center.
“Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S.,” said Rosemary Trible, founder and president of Fear 2 Freedom. “That’s 30 assaults an hour and 750 a day. As soon as tonight, someone could be opening your bag and receiving your note and the other things that you put together for them.”
Fear 2 Freedom is an international nonprofit organization that coordinates events to help those wounded by sexual assault and to bring survivors hope and healing. It was founded in 2011 by Trible, a sexual assault survivor who has dedicated her life to helping others find joy and walk the path to healing from fear to freedom. Since 2011, F2F has delivered more than 13,000 kits worldwide.
The kits are given to both child and adult survivors of sexual assault after they have undergone the Physical Evidence Recovery Kit process. After the exam, a survivor’s clothes may be taken to preserve any evidence. Survivors also are able to take a shower but many are without basic toiletries. The kits are able to provide survivors with basic necessities. They differ slightly in that the child’s kit contains a coloring book and crayons and the adult kit contains a journal and pen, but both contain a teddy bear or “Freedom Bear” to provide comfort during the hospital stay and beyond.
“We want to give them that gift of hope and kindness.”
“What many don’t realize is when you go to the hospital for sexual assault, all of your clothes have to be kept for evidence,” Trible explained. “Too often, people are walking out of the hospital in hospital gowns, paper scrubs or mis-sized donated clothes. To have these individuals walk out in clean, fresh, sized clothes that no one has ever worn, and to take that kit containing all of the items with them, it makes a difference. We want to give them that gift of hope and kindness.”
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