Nonprofit raises money for survivors during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Published: Apr. 2, 2022 at 10:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One in three women and one in four men have experienced sexual violence in their life.

In 2020, close to 3,000 rapes were reported to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, but more than 60% of survivors don’t come forward.

Survivor Shield Foundation, a nonprofit, is working to break the stigma around sexual assault. Their goal is to support survivors and promote awareness.

The organization was started by University of Arizona students near the end of 2021. Since then, the foundation has grown and they’ve been able to help around 100 survivors.

This month is especially important to get the word out as it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“This is a really, really important month because it’s the month we can highlight sexual assault survivors in the community and we can highlight the issues the most,” Jake Martin said, the President of Survivor Shield Foundation.

Martin started the nonprofit because he felt like there was a gap in the community. The foundation started off with a small group of U of A students, but now it has grown beyond that.

“We have grown exponentially,” he said. “So, we started out at farmers markets collecting donations. As a result of that, we’ve been able to start putting on our own events and since then we’ve just ballooned. We have so much more community support. They’re welcoming us with open arms and we could not be more grateful.”

Some of the survivors they’ve helped are local, others live across the U.S., and some are even in other countries. In a charity art show Saturday, they raised more than $1,600.

The donations will go toward things that benefit survivors such as care kits, therapy, recovery, and even medical bills.

Martin said there’s a growing need for organizations like his, as sexual assault and domestic violence cases rise throughout the pandemic.

Just in the first couple of months of the pandemic, calls at the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network hotline went up 22%. To put that in perspective, every 68 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S.

“It did increase it a lot. You had people trapped at home with their abusive partners unable to get to work,” Martin said. “So, because of that things skyrocketed.”

The organization, Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, linked up with Survivor Shield for the event. Representatives said they hope more members of the community will educate themselves during sexual assault awareness month and be an ally to survivors.

“When we encounter a survivor that has the courage to share that they have been a victim, even if they don’t disclose what those details are, and that’s okay, that we can tell them that we believe them and that we want to support them,” Mara Capati said, crisis advocate for SACASA.

“We don’t have to be an advocate. We don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse. We can be anybody in the community that has the intention to want to help somebody and get them the right resources so they can make informed decisions.”

If you missed out on Saturday’s art show, Survivor Shield is planning more events for later this month.

If you’d like to volunteer or learn more about Survivor Shield, you can find more information here.

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