By SARAH GRAMMER
“Fear 2 Freedom” took place on April 1 at the University of Mary Washington’s Anderson Center. The group is a global nonprofit dedicated to restoring the lives of people who are wounded by sexual assault.
The organization recruits volunteers to package after-care kits for victims of sexual assault to help them through their time in the hospital. Each care kit contains clothing, toiletries, a journal, a stuffed teddy bear and an empowering note from the person who put together their box. The kits are sent to local hospitals and organizations; some are even sent to other countries.
Short speeches were given by President Rick Hurley and Chris Kilmartin, professor of psychology. Both shared their support for the F2F movement and encouraged students to do the same, especially after recent events.
F2F founder Rosemary Trible gave an empowering speech about her personal experiences with sexual assault and how important it is to acknowledge the topic. Trible talked about the general public not realizing that sexual assault is a problem in the United States and that many ignore the problem or use victim blaming in order to feel safer.
Trible shared the story of her rape at gunpoint in 1975, and the process a victim goes through in the hospital. All the victim’s clothes are taken as evidence, they are subjected to an invasive exam and are sent home in hospital gowns. The after-care kits provide comfort to the victims during this experience and give them a sense of control by giving them the tools to care for themselves.
A forensic nurse from Mary Washington Hospital cried trying to explain the effect the kits have on the victims of sexual assault she meets every day.
After a short video, the students were given the opportunity to fill a kit themselves and leave a note of encouragement for the victims.
Many students learned about the event through their sporting teams, such as junior psychology major Sarah Listenbee, who is on the UMW basketball team.
“I think it is really something important that everybody should try to be a part of because we are touching the lives of people that we don’t even know, and they need us,” said Listenbee.
Listenbee hopes that the victims “will get a sense of joy and a sense of recovery,” when they open the kits. Listenbee also wants them to “realize that they are strong and they are going to overcome the adversities they are going through.”
Some students have experience talking with victims of sexual assault, like senior theatre and creative writing double major Tionge Johnson.
“I have two close friends of mine who have been victims of sexual assault, and I just feel like it could happen to anybody, so it is really important to go out and spread the word and help anybody you can,” said Johnson.
Still, for other students this experience proved eye opening. Freshman psychology major Jenna Yost said she did not understand at first why clothes would be so important to a victim of sexual assault.
“After hearing that they leave there without their own clothes I think that something as simple as clothes or a teddy bear could make a big impact,” said Yost
At the end of the program the kits were delivered to local hospitals and organizations by ambulances. Mary Washington Hospital, Safe Harbor and the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault all received kits to continue helping victims of sexual assault.