Moving from Fear 2 Freedom

Yearly event assembles kits for victims of rape, abuse, violence and sex-trafficking

Caroline Brady and Asha Campbell

“Tonight, you are the solution,” president of Fear 2 Freedom, Rosemary Trible, said to students at Washington and Lee’s Fear 2 Freedom Celebration Night on March 10.

Students gathered in Evans Dining Hall to raise awareness and assemble after-care kits for victims of seuxal assault. The evening was sponsored by Fear 2 Freedom and The Facing Sexual Violence Project of Rockbridge County to inspire change in an uplifting manner.

This was the third year W&L hosted the event. According to co-leaders Hayden Yates, ‘16, and Elena Diller, ‘17, they plan to host it again next year.

“I’m immensely proud to plan and coordinate Fear 2 Freedom, continuously inspired by the event itself and those volunteering,” said Diller. “The aftercare kits rectify, albeit a small amount, the dehumanizing experience of a sexual assault by providing one of the first sources of comfort in the recovery process.”

Fear 2 Freedom is a non-profit organization that aims to support victims of sexual assault. The group provides after-care kits to victims of rape, child abuse, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. The kits, which will be donated to the Augusta Health Center and Carilion Clinic Family Medicine, contain clothes, toiletries and a teddy bear. The purpose of these items is to make the victim more comfortable during his or her exam period.

“I love the way F2F brings together young men and women for an important cause, fostering both community as well as activism,” Annie Persons, ‘15, said.

The after-care kits also include notes of support and comfort to the victims. Renee Pullen, a sexual assault examiner from Augusta Health, located in Fishersville, Virginia, said the notes can have a very powerful impact on the victims who read them. She said the kits make the exam visits a little less intrusive for patients.

“It means something to the patients that there’s somebody out there that cares about them besides the nurses and people in the hospital,” Pullen said.

  The Facing Sexual Violence Project was started here last year in an effort to increase awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence in Rockbridge County by fostering constructive conversations. The group’s goal is to combine more than 100 personal accounts, stories, art, and other information into a book that is expected to be released some time this spring.

“The Facing Sexual Violence Project is proud to support the Fear 2 Freedom event,” said Noelle Rutland, ’17, one of the founders of the Facing Sexual Violence Project. “Events such as Fear 2 Freedom are integral to raising awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence and demonstrating support for survivors of sexual assault or abuse.”

Participants said they were particularly moved by one student’s account of sexual assault. This was the first year that the event featured a student speaker. Last year’s speaker, who was not a member of the W&L community, focused on her experiences with domestic violence.

“So often we hear stories and shocking statistics about rape and sexual assault and immediately put them off as something that could never happen to us,” Lindsay Castleberry, ’17, said. “But hearing W&L students who have been personally affected made it so much more powerful.”

Rutland said the survivor’s account of her sexual assault is important in helping students understand how real this issue is, even if they haven’t been affected personally.

“The presence of a student survivor as a speaker at the event serves as a reminder that sexual violence is a reality which occurs on our campus,” Rutland said. “And it is up to us to take a stand against it.”

As Kim Ruscio, wife of W&L’s President Kenneth Ruscio, said: “It is wrong anywhere. It is wrong everywhere. But it is especially wrong at Washington and Lee.”