1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (Source: RAINN). Although receiving a sexual assault forensic exam is critical to survivors’ health and ability to hold the perpetrator accountable, it is also an intense and isolated procedure that can re-traumatize.
Thanks to a partnership with Fear2Freedom, YWCA Dayton has launched an aftercare kit initiative to support local survivors who receive post-assault medical care with care packages that include both practical and counseling tools.
When a survivor goes to the hospital for a SAFE or PERK exam (also known as a rape kit), their clothes and other personal items are kept as evidence. To ensure survivors leave the hospital with dignity, forensic nurses or advocates can provide aftercare kits. Besides clean clothes and toiletry essentials, kits contain support items for survivors, like a journal, handwritten note of support, and special comfort bear. Kits are available in sizes from small to 5X and are gender-neutral.
“These kits will play a major role in the services that YWCA provides,” said Megan Garrison, sexual assault program educator. “People don’t always understand how much a survivor loses after an assault. These kits can bring hope and healing.”
Founded in 2011, Fear 2 Freedom is a global nonprofit on a mission to restore hope and dignity to survivors of sexual assault while empowering students and communities to combat sexual violence. To date, they have partnered with more than six YWCA’s and distributed about 27,000 kits, free of charge.
Kits also include information on YWCA Dayton services – including its 24/7 Crisis Hotline, 937-222-SAFE – if a survivor needs to reach out for counseling, supportive listening, or other post-assault services. The handwritten cards – crafted by YW staff, volunteers, and community members – are particularly significant.
“Every aftercare kit includes a card with a supportive message that goes home with the survivor,” Garrison said. “It’s a way for us to reiterate: You are not alone. We believe you. You are safe now. And it helps survivors feel a little more connected after the trauma that they’ve been through.”
To volunteer to assemble aftercare kits or write supportive messages, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.