Thursday, September 29, 2005

Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence with "Threads of Compassion"


This wonderful outreach to victims of rape, incest, and other forms of sexual violence recently was inaugurated by a dear friend. I'm posting her own description of it here, and hope some of bluechristian's readers will get involved.

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Threads of Compassion is a loosely connected group of survivors of sexual violence who desire to offer comfort and support to recent victims. The idea is simple. Anyone whose life has been affected by sexual assault or abuse is welcome to knit or crochet a scarf which in turn will be given to a victim of sexual violence when they enter the hospital for emergency treatment.

Having been through similar experiences ourselves, our hope is to offer support at a time when a person is feeling forsaken, fearful, and extremely vulnerable, and in a simple way let them know they are not alone. So many people are lost in how to respond to friends and family members that have been victims of sexual abuse or assault, so they opt to do nothing. Their fear of adding more pain by saying or doing the wrong thing results in silence. This silence is heartbreaking to the victim...a silence that offers no validation to the pain they are going through and that adds to their feeling of isolation.

The silence produces shame.

One of the main goals behind Threads of Compassion is to break through this silence by acknowledging the pain. The gift of a scarf not only shows the knitters/crocheters concern for the victim, but also expresses their sorrow for what has happened. Each scarf is made by someone who wishes to provide a small amount of comfort against the pain being faced, and by doing so, lets the victim know they are not alone. The scarves are tangible objects that can be held, wrapped around the neck or shoulders, with the deeper meaning known only by the wearer. As each victim touches the threads of the scarves they receive, they are connecting with someone who cares about what has happened to them. A huge message given through a few threads of yarn.

The added beauty of the scarves is that the gift is actually two-fold. Through making the scarves, survivors are provided an opportunity to help other victims (in a very non-threatening way). Everyone remains anonymous. Those who knit the scarves never meet the specific people who receive their scarves. That is all handled through the local rape crisis center. Most hospitals now contact victim advocates when sexual violence victims come into the ER, and it is through this staff that the scarves will be presented to the victims. Each scarf will have a small card attached to it that explains the idea behind Threads of Compassion and information on how to contact their local crisis center if they need further help or support.

If you would like to contribute a scarf, please do. We would be honored to receive them. Anyone whose life has been affected by sexual assault or abuse is welcome to make and send a scarf. Whether scarves are done by survivors, or friends and family members of survivors, it does not matter, (scarves can also be made in honor of friends who were raped, family members who suffered sexual abuse, etc.).

The scarves do not have to be any specific length, color, or masterpiece. We do ask that you try to make the scarves out of very soft yarn that can be held close without feeling rough to the skin. There are numerous scarf patterns that are very easy to knit or crochet, and can be made by any beginner. To the left is a list of links to various web sites that offer free scarf patterns, and a one site that offer instructions in how to knit with free on-line knitting videos.

After you have made your scarf feel free to mail it to us.
Send it to Threads of Compassion / 920 W. Wilson Ave. / Chicago, IL 60640.

Another option is for you to set up your own chapter of Threads of Compassion. Simply contact your local rape crisis center and see if they would be willing to be involved in handing out your scarves. The only request we have is that you let us know if you are able to do this, (that way we can refer others in your area to your group).

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email us at: threads_of_compassion@yahoo.com

1 comment:

Taarna said...

I think I'll take up knitting now. I wish there had been something like that for me. I would have loved to have something to hug knowing that it was from someone that had been through the same thing as I had.