“It’s definitely important that people get involved, especially to spread awareness about this,” said Daniel Powers ’19 (College of Arts & Sciences).
Powers was one of dozens of Regent students who gathered in the library atrium to learn about the growing problem of sex trafficking around the world and sexual abuse that happens all too often in the local community.
“Some of the statistics were really surprising, just to hear four years old is the average age for male sexual abuse, which is crazy,” said Powers.
While the statistics are shocking, so is the fact of what happens to survivors once they’re released from the hospital.
“In our hospitals, they are walking out in paper scrubs, which just broke my heart,”‘ said Rosemary Trible, Fear 2 Freedom founder.
Trible didn’t allow her own experience of sexual assault to keep her living in fear. Instead, she found freedom by starting Fear 2 Freedom, and using her story to raise awareness and encourage others to do something tangible to move survivors from a trap of fear to a place of freedom. Regent students helped assemble kits with sweatpants, underwear, toiletries, notes of encouragement, and a stuffed bear for survivors.
“The bear is a very important part of our comforting tool for this,” said Trible. “The forensic nurse, or one of the partners would say, ‘He’s got some little papers. Take out one and write the name of who’s hurt you, or stick figure, if you’re a child, and you open up the heart of the bear, and you put that little piece of paper in the bear. As you get a little stronger, you take it out and you put it in water. It’s dissolving paper, so at first, the words disappear, and then the whole paper disappears, and it’s just a little symbol that they don’t have to be stuck as a victim.”
Once the kits leave Regent, they will go to Samaritan House, More to Life, and Destiny’s Rescue, all organizations that rescue sex trafficking or assault survivors. Within the past three years, the organization has partnered with 18 universities to prepare and distribute 13,000 kits. Trible says she’s seen the success of the program, recalling a family of five children under the age of 13 who were able to leave a hospital with clothing and care after a forensic exam.
“They got foster homes for all of those children, one home that took all five. As they walked out, the littlest one was only two, and she had her backpack on with a little bear sticking out of it. They said, ‘All you could see was the little bear and her feet walking out’, and that image has inspired me more than anything to believe that we can help them truly believe there’s a future without this abuse in their lives,” said Trible.
Regent students also learned more about how they can get involved with other organizations that fight sex trafficking, care for victims, and raise awareness.
By Brennan Smith