Fear 2 Freedom Event Empowers Survivors of Sexual Assault

Photo Courtesy of Scott Zimmerman

Trigger Warning: Article Discusses Sexual Assault

Every seat was filled on Thursday, April 6 for the “Fear 2 Freedom” event held in Daughtry Palmer Commons (DPC). Co-sponsored by the Wellness Center, Title IX, Sexual Misconduct Advocacy, and Resource Team (SMART), the program included speeches from advocates against sexual violence, speeches by students, and participation from volunteers who crafted “Kits” for survivors.

These kits included clean clothes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, toiletries, a hair brush, handwritten cards, resource information, a “bear book,” a teddy bear, and a journal or a toy, depending on the age of the recipients.

The kits are created in order to show survivors of sexual assault humanity after their attack and subsequent treatment at the hospital, which one speaker said can be dehumanizing. They continued to explain this is because of the prodding and swapping mandatory to collect evidence. The clothes, packed in a “dove bag,” provide the survivors a sense of comfort. After the mandatory physical examination at the hospital, patient’s clothes are often taken as evidence. They are provided with a paper garment. In order to provide a level of comfort, Fear 2 Freedom provides sweatpants and a t-shirt.

Kits were sent out to the local hospitals and healthcare providers, they will be distributed to those in need. More than 75 kits were created by St. Mary’s students at the event.

Fear 2 Freedom provides this essential service on and around colleges campuses not only to create the hand-packed kits for survivors but to raise awareness for sexual assault victims. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “1 in 5 female students and 1 in 16 male students will experience attempted or completed sexual assault during their four years in college.”

The United States Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women reports that sexual assault is an extremely under-reported crime: 68% percent of assaults are never reported.

One of the speakers at the event was from the Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy, which provides free legal representation for victims and survivors. They can be reached at their website (www.smcfa.net) or by phone at 301-373-414. Other resources in the community include the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (mcasa.org) and the Walden-Sierra 24 Hour Crisis Hotline (301-863-6661).

On campus, students can confidentially utilize SMART (301-904-2015), Counseling and Psychological Services (240-895-4289), and Kelly Muldoon, the staff therapist/advocate (240-895-4289).