Fear 2 Freedom brings sexual assault awareness to campus
Radford University students united Nov. 10 to support a powerful movement that brings hope and healing to survivors of sexual assault across the Commonwealth, the country and the world.
More than 400 volunteers - representing several campus organizations, clubs and sports teams - participated in the university's first-ever Celebration Night at which they prepared After Care Kits designed to aid and comfort those affected by sexual assault.
The event was brought to campus by Fear 2 Freedom (F2F), a Virginia-based nonprofit organization established in 2011 by Rosemary Trible, the wife of former U.S. Senator and current Christopher Newport University President Paul Trible.
Radford students filled the standing-room-only Multipurpose Activity Court (MAC) of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center to hear from Trible as well as Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle and Betty Jones of the Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley, with which Radford University has enjoyed a long partnership.
"This is truly a grand turnout," President Kyle said speaking to students. "I am so proud of you and so thankful for your participation. Your generosity and compassion tonight sends a powerful and uplifting signal of support to all of the survivors."
Trible, who shared her personal story of survival, echoed Kyle's gratefulness.
"You are here because you want to make a difference," she said. "You are here because you want to be the change – to change your campus, to change your heart."
Trible explained the meaning of F2F, which was named after a startling statistic that says every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted. Four decades ago Trible tragically became part of that statistic when she was raped at gunpoint – the perpetrator never to be found.
"December 21, 1975, changed my life forever," Trible said.
With support from friends and family, Trible began down the long road of "fear to freedom." Today, she is helping others along that same journey.
Following instructions from the F2F team, Radford students packed kits with items for both adults and children, including a set of clothing. After sexual assault survivors undergo medical examinations, their clothes are kept for forensic evidence. Also special to the kits is a Freedom Bear, which survivors are encouraged to use as a counseling tool. There is an enclosure in each stuffed animal, near the heart, where survivors store a piece of paper on which they write the name of the person who assaulted them.
"Once the survivor gets a little stronger, they will put that piece of paper in water, and it will dissolve," Trible explained.
Handwritten notes by students are also included.
Radford Club Soccer player Carley Swetz was among many students in attendance who shared a personal connection to sexual violence. Swetz said she knows someone who was sexually assaulted. The experience, she said, "made sexual assault more real to me."
"I realize it could happen to anybody," Swetz said.
Now, whenever Swetz hears of an event that brings awareness to sexual assault, "I say 'I got it. I'll sign up,'" she said.
Senior Christian Preston, president of Phi Kappa Sigma, said sexual assault is often talked about at his fraternity's meetings.
"Sexual assault is a problem on college campuses everywhere," Preston said. "It's ruining organizations and students' lives."
Seeing such a tremendous response to Radford's Fear to Freedom event is an example of how "Radford University unites," he said. "It's great to see everyone come together, because together we can solve problems like sexual assault."
Once assembled, some of the kits were loaded onto a medical transport to be delivered to the Carilion New River Valley Medical Center. The rest were taken to the Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley during a candlelight walk across campus in which more than 100 students participated.
Fear 2 Freedom's mission is twofold: to redeem and restore those wounded by sexual assault, bringing them hope and healing, and to change the cultural understanding surrounding this issue by empowering college students to "Be the Change" and "Restore the Joy." F2F accomplishes this mission through its University Campaign, which partners universities with hospitals and community organization to provide F2F Kits to victims of sexual assault. To date, Fear 2 Freedom has provided over 9,000 F2F Kits.
For more information on Fear 2 Freedom, visit www.fear2freedom.org.