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Small Donations Go a Long Way to Helping Victims of Sexual Assault

By: Brittanie Leibold

May 11, 2012

In honor of Women's History Month and The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, the Women's Center and Campus Ministry sponsored a clothing and toiletry drive to benefit survivors of sexual assault.
When a survivor of sexual assault decides to go to a hospital and have a forensic exam performed, their clothing is collected as evidence. The Women's Center and Campus Ministry reached out to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) at Washington Hospital and the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) to learn what clothing and toiletry items were needed. Although the SANE program has helped to streamline the process, evidence collection still takes several hours. At the end of the process, survivors are often exhausted and want to get cleaned up.

Comfortable clothing like sweatpants and sweatshirts, as well as toiletry items, are a welcome relief. Without clothing donations, DCRCC would not be able to provide new clothing for survivors, and they would have to be discharged in a hospital gown. Our clothing donations helped to provide some sense of comfort and normalcy to survivors.

Additionally, because survivors often know their assailant, they are sometimes prevented from returning home out of concern for their safety. The toiletry items we donated provide survivors with personal hygiene essentials during their time in safe housing. While a change of clothing and a bag of toiletries may not be the first items to cross someone's mind when they think about the needs of survivors, these items help address a survivor's need for compassion, safety, and comfort after trauma. For this, survivors, the SANE program, and DCRCC are extremely grateful.
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