Awareness and Prevention

FCASV Virtual Gallery -- SAAM 2020

In a time of social distancing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FCASV and partnering advocates, survivors, and crisis centers is maintaining connectedness through cyber support.  During Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2020, FCASV is reminding members and followers of the unwavering support for sexual assault victims from our communities. 

In such a period of uncertainty, the SAAM Virtual Gallery allows community members to showcase support through the healing journey using various avenues of self-expression. Throughout the month of April, the gallery will be updated to display peer-to-survivor letters, survivor letters-to-self, poems, artwork, and other forms of representation that are most meaningful. For more information or to submit, please email nabara@fcasv.org.

Check out submissions included in the SAAM Virtual Gallery below.

 

                                                 

 

                                                                       

 

Empowerment Masks Project -- SAAM 2019

Durin Sexual Assault Awareness Month, FCASV honored the duality of the healing journey. Our certified sexual assault programs around the state worked with survivors to create Empowerment Masks. Through these masks, we were able to witness and hold space for survivors’ pain and injustice while also celebrating their strength and resilience. Below are highlights of the Empowerment Masks creation process from three programs. Visit our social media accounts to see images of the masks hung up at the Lake Ella Black Dog Cafe. 

Shelter House 

Living with the pain and secrecy of trauma is one of the more difficult aspects in a survivor’s healing journey. Many survivors have responsibilities that force them to put their healing process on hold and are unable to get involved in support services. Their outward appearance can disguise a wide array of emotions including sadness, anger, loneliness and fear. Our workshop’s purpose was to give survivors the opportunity to explore and express how they have developed ways to conceal their trauma so they could keep moving forward. Participants chose to decorate the inside and outside of each mask to contrast the emotions and thoughts they have experienced due to sexual violence. Survivors expressed that this activity has inspired them to reveal the pain they keep hidden and felt empowered to share their experiences with others in the future.

  

Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center

Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center had the opportunity to participate in the Empowerment Masks SAAM Project this year and chose to complete the project with participants that were currently in the Male Survivors of Sexual Violence Support Group. Members chose how to divide their mask and each used very different colors. One member that divided his mask horizontally stated that the bottom half was water and the more he kept his sexual abuse a secret, the further down into depression he went. The darkening of the color blue represents this. On the top half, he painted it to represent a sunrise and how healing has been a new beginning and being able to see with a new clarity. Once the masks were completed, several themes emerged. Within the victim side of each masks, the participants described feelings of depression, keeping secrets, being trapped, hopelessness, and being surrounded by darkness. On the survivor side of the masks themes that arose were being hopeful, relief, freedom, new beginnings, and seeing with clarity for the first time. Each member appreciated being able to participate in this project and express their healing journey in a creative way.

  

  

Betty Griffin Center

These women range in age from 21 to 77 years of age and all are survivors. Each mask represents their journey of survival and how they had to be two people in order to cope with their sexual violence. If you look closely, some used the color teal to represent sexual assault and some used the ribbon to represent the cage they were in. One survivor was so creative that she used a cracked eggshell for the eye and band aids to hold her brain together because she felt broken after her assault. Some participants used colors to represent how they were feeling – blue – sad, black – depressed, red – pain etc. They are amazing and the women really did a great job.

  

  

FCASV Weaving Our Stories Display -- SAAM 2018 

FCASV invites you to Weaving Our Stories. The display is a clothing exhibit that will travel to different Tallahassee locations during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) April of 2018. The MeToo Movement has created national discussion and allowed people of various backgrounds to come together and share the ways that they too have been impacted by sexual violence. Our exhibit’s aim is to further unify the experiences of survivors to build momentum for change.

Our exhibit is titled Weaving Our Stories to symbolize the strength that stems from sharing our stories, creating community, instilling hope, and promoting healing and change across our entire state. This powerful display features the outfits, or similar outfits to those, worn by survivors during their assaults. These outfits represent various individuals and cities throughout the state, via our certified sexual assault centers. To learn more about sexual violence and what you can do on an individual level, please come out to one of our events.

Click here to watch our highlight video of this project. 

    

     

One Thousand Shoes from Sexual Assault Survivors Displayed in Florida Capitol for SAAM 2017 

An emotional and eye-opening display that featured about 1,000 shoes worn, decorated and submitted by sexual assault survivors of all ages from across the state of Florida – with accompanying stories – decorated the Capitol rotunda to commemorate National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The display, hosted by Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV) asks others to “Walk in My Shoes” – the shoes of someone who has been impacted by sexual violence.

“Our smallest shoe was submitted by the mother of an infant, and the largest shoe was sent in by a 50 year old man. We’ve got shoes and stories from young children, grandparents, and people from all walks of life in between,” says Senator Lauren Book (D – Plantation), one of the supporters of the display. “We’ve even got shoes submitted by family members of survivors who ended their lives due to drugs, eating disorders or suicide, unable to overcome the trauma of their assault. It doesn’t have to be that way. With education and awareness, we can prevent 95 percent of sexual abuse – and with guidance and support, we can help survivors heal.”

Someone becomes a victim of sexual assault every 98 seconds in the United States. Last year, more than 10,000 victims reported sexual assault to service providers in Florida, with most choosing not to report their abuse to law enforcement. Experts say this is due to shame, guilt, embarrassment, and the fact that 90 percent of victims know their assailant.

“I was inspired by the sexual assault program in my district in Broward County, the Nancy J. Cotterman Center, which is an amazing and essential resource for our community,” says Representative Kristin Jacobs (D – Coconut Creek), an involved supporter. “I wanted to open people’s eyes to the fact that sexual violence happens much more frequently than any of us care to recognize – and that it happens to men, women and children in all kinds of communities, regardless of race, religion or socioeconomic status. We need to educate, and to help shatter the stigma surrounding sexual assault so that victims can be connected with services and help become thriving survivors.”

Fifteen child victims, who now consider themselves to be survivors and advocates for change, were also in attendance to ‘unveil’ the display in the Capitol rotunda and speak with legislators, as will members from the organization Bikers Against Child Abuse Florida (BACA) – who rode to the Capitol from across Florida to attend.

“It’s OK to tell…and it’s OK to heal,” says a young survivor named Cayla. “The healing starts when you tell someone, and they believe you. Kids shouldn’t be embarrassed or afraid – it is not their fault.”

Seventy-five percent of child sexual abuse victims do not speak up for at least a year; 45 percent keep it a secret for five years, and many never disclose.

“When I was a little girl, we only got one gift for Christmas – a new pair of shoes,” one story, attached to a small shoe reads. “Our new shoes were used only for church, and our old shoes became our everyday shoes. Church was a big part of our lives; it was a big part of our entire community. It still is…If you or your family had a problem, you went to your pastor for help. So, when my older brother died in WWII, I went to our pastor to help me answer all of the questions that kept running through my nine-year-old head. A part of me died with my brother; my entire childhood died that day with my pastor.”

If left unresolved, survivors of sexual abuse face lifelong consequences, including mental health issues, substance abuse, PTSD, lost wages and more. It has been estimated that rape costs victims an average of $122,000.

“It’s important for everyone to be aware that services are available,” says Jennifer Dritt, Executive Director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.  “If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted or abused, help is available today, whether the violation happened yesterday or forty years ago. Florida’s certified sexual assault programs offer trauma-informed counseling, therapy, advocacy, and crisis-intervention services for anyone recently assaulted, or suffering silently from the effects of child sexual abuse. Pick up the phone. Call your local program. Services are available, right now, for you or your loved ones.”

Advocates say that 95 percent of this abuse is preventable through education and awareness.