VCU Recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month
University and Health System partner with nonprofit organization
to host events in April
Cassie Williams Jones
University Public Affairs
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Health System have partnered with Fear 2 Freedom, a global nonprofit organization working to help victims of sexual assault, for three events on campus this month.
At the upcoming “Where is the Line?” Celebration Event, student volunteers will assemble 500 kits for adult and children victims of sexual assault and patients of the VCU Medical Center, containing toiletries, clothing, toys and sexual assault educational information and resources. After compilation, the kits will be delivered to the VCU Emergency Department and be unloaded by medical and nursing students.
The Fear 2 Freedom campaign urges college students to take action to help put an end to dating violence and sexual assault. This event is especially significant for victims who require forensic testing while in the hospital because their clothing is kept for evidence, leaving them with only the paper hospital gown to wear home. The kits will provide items for showering and a new set of clothes for leaving the hospital.
The “Where is the Line?” Celebration Event will be held Monday, April 23, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Larrick Student Center on the MCV Campus. All students are encouraged to volunteer and help make a difference in the lives of victims of sexual assault.
Previously this month, the VCU Injury and Violence Prevention Program (IVPP) hosted the “Where is the Line?” Lunch Forum on sexual assault for medical and nursing students. The program addressed the multiple aspects of trauma health care providers may face when treating victims of sexual and intimate partner violence, preparing attendees for their future roles and raising awareness of this patient group.
VCU’s IVPP is home to several violence prevention programs and uses ongoing education, research and community outreach to reduce and prevent injuries. It is housed in the Division of Trauma at the VCU Medical Center, Central Virginia’s only Level-1 Trauma Center and one of only two nationally recognized in the state.
Children who are sexually abused come through the pediatric emergency room at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and are evaluated, diagnosed and treated by the Child Protection Team, comprised of specialized physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and social workers experienced in the field of child abuse and neglect. The merger of the VCU Health System and the Children’s Hospital increased access to enhanced, comprehensive pediatric care to young patients and their families, including child victims of sexual abuse.
“As health care providers, it is our job to ensure patients are as safe, stable and calm as possible,” said Kathy Baker, Ph.D., director of resource management for LifeEvac and the VCU Health System emergency department. “The kits assembled at the event will be a great resource for victims and provide an added layer of comfort after a terrible and traumatic incident.”
A “Take Back the Night” Rally and March Against Violence, held last week by the VCU Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Education by Students (S.A.V.E.S.) and VCU Wellness Resource Center, raised money for Fear 2 Freedom and provided a safe environment for victims of sexual assault to express their feelings and share their stories.
“Take Back the Night” is an international initiative, with the annual event in the United States happening for more than 30 years. The empowering evening at VCU consisted of a clothesline project, featuring T-shirts decorated by sexual assault survivors, and a rally and march around VCU’s Monroe Park campus.
“VCU is dedicated to fostering an environment of safety and acceptance for its students, faculty, staff and surrounding community,” said Reuben Rodriguez, Ed.D., associate vice provost and dean of student affairs at VCU. “This partnership with Fear 2 Freedom is a result of that commitment, and we are so pleased to have the opportunity to support such a deserving organization.”
The mission of Fear 2 Freedom is to redeem and restore lives broken by abuse and to educate and empower communities to prevent and eradicate the sexual abuse crisis. The organization partners with universities and hospitals to distribute kits, such as the ones being created at VCU’s event on April 23, to bring healing and hope to those affected by sexual assault.
“We are so excited for the event Monday, and it has been wonderful to work with VCU and the VCU Health System,” said Rosemary Trible, founder of Fear 2 Freedom. As a victim of sexual assault, Trible was driven by her own passion to help others through the organization and to create the concept of the kits.
“That passion led me to provide these after-care kits for those abused, to help bring a little joy in the midst of such a traumatic moment,” she said. “These VCU student volunteers will truly be making a difference in the lives of those wounded by abuse.”
For more information on the Fear 2 Freedom initiative, visit http://vimeo.com/38036842.