Rosemary Trible has dedicated her life to helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence find their joy. The secret, she believes, is in the little things that come at just the right time.
That’s why Trible started Fear 2 Freedom, a Virginia-based nonprofit aimed at raising awareness of sexual abuse, bringing change through vigilance and bringing healing through compassion. She recently traveled to Birmingham-Southern College for a “Celebration Night” benefiting the YWCA Central Alabama and the Crisis Center Inc.’s Rape Response program.
More than 150 students gathered to pack 225 Fear 2 Freedom after-care kits to be distributed to women and children served by the two agencies. Each kit contains a pair of sweatpants, a T-shirt and underwear, toiletries, a stuffed Freedom Bear and a personal note written by a student. The adult kit also contains a journal and pen while the child’s kit has a toy.
“When victims go to the hospital, their clothes are kept for evidence,” Trible told the students, adding that victims often leave in paper scrubs or hospital gowns, which heightens their shame and trauma. “It’s an important message if, right at that moment of greatest tragedy, you are presented something of joy,” she said. “It’s a gift of hope, a gift of kindness.”
Trible knows firsthand the value of such a gift. Four days before Christmas 1975, she was raped at gunpoint. “It was a night of complete horror and pain and fear, but I want people to know that they can have healing and fullness and joy again.”
She also wants to spread the word about the risks of sexual assault, especially on college campuses. “Every two minutes, someone is sexually abused in our country,” she said, which is why the numeral 2 is used in Fear 2 Freedom. “One in five female college students will be sexually abused during her four years of college. That is unacceptable.”
Although most of the items in the kits are practical ones, the Freedom Bear is perhaps the most important. The stuffed bear has a backpack filled with notepaper. A tag on the bear explains that the victim should writer her fears or the name of the person who hurt her and place the note it in the bear’s heart.
“Later, when you’re feeling stronger, take the note out and place it in water,” she said. “Watch the words and then the paper disappear as a symbol of your healing, as a symbol that you don’t have to stay a victim.”
After the students packed the kits, they observed a two-minute moment of silence before heading out to load them into the back of a waiting ambulance. “Thank you for being the change,” Trible said as they filed out of the room. “Thank you for restoring the joy and bringing new hope to those who have been wounded by abuse.”