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University of Maryland fraternity assembles aftercare kits for sexual assault victims

UMD fraternity assembles aftercare kits for sexual assault victims. (Richard Reeve/ABC7)

There’s controlled chaos at the Alpha Tau Omega house at the University of Maryland.

Dozens of fraternity brothers were working like an assembly line, shouting instructions, filling up drawstring bags.

All this, to help victims in need.

“The biggest things we stand by is anti-sexual assault, and sex assault prevention,” Kevin Scranton said. “To try to lessen the burden of such a traumatic experience.”

The fraternity brothers were spending part of their Sunday afternoon, lining up to put together aftercare kits for victims of sexual assault.

“We’re trying to let each victim know that we’re here and we support them,” said Russell McBride, a Maryland senior.

The kits contain clean clothing and toiletries like hair brushes, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

Also in each bag are cards with a phone number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

The collection effort and the work behind it did not go unnoticed by other students.

“I think that is very thoughtful,” said Jasmin Craven, a freshman. “Especially because people are in these terrible situations. Having that support I think is really important.”

Each kit also contains a special, handwritten note.

“We wrote personal notes in each package, which says ‘you know we’re here to help and be strong and people support you,’” McBride said.

Working with the non-profit group Fear2Freedom, which works to "restore hope and dignity to survivors of sexual assault," the fraternity put together 150 kits last year.

This weekend’s goal is even more ambitious.

After a benefit concert that raised $10,000, members are assembling 400 kits.

“It gets everyone motivated and realize what we’re really doing for the community and I think it’s such a good cause,” said Drew Levine, a sophomore. "This is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of at school.”

Experts say campus assault is a serious problem.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says nationwide, one out of every four female students will be victims of sexual assault during their college years.

That one of five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

The Maryland campus has emergency blue light kiosks scattered across campus for students who need help.

Those who spoke with ABC7 News say they generally feel safe but are watchful.

“We don’t walk alone at night,” freshman Sonali Desai said. “It is safe during the day but you of course have to take precautions.”

Said Craven, “I always like to stay in groups at night. I think it’s very important especially being a young woman.”

The kits also contain stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons for children who’ve been victimized.

Members of Alpha Tau Omega say they hope the personal notes they wrote will make a difference.

“What I said is, you are loved and we are always here for you,” Levine said. “I think the message we’re trying to get across is that nobody’s alone, there’s always people and we want to be the people that someone can turn to.”

For that, a number of women we spoke with on campus, some of whom have never met anyone in the fraternity, say they are profoundly grateful.

“Just giving them that support will help the woman heal,” freshman Jordan Banks said. “It’s going to be a long process but it’s nice to know you have people behind you.”

Members of Alpha Tau Omega plan on distributing the kits to area hospitals over the next couple of weeks.

“It’s definitely a good start,” Scranton said.

The message in each one of the kits comes through loud and clear.

That if you are a victim, people are ready to support you, and help you be strong.

“Sometimes, that’s a message that really needs to be heard,” Levine said. “It’s important to us, because these are our friends.”


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