FSU Alumna Starts Non-Profit for Women Who Are Victims of Sexual Assault
When people say that Bobcats go on to do great things, they are not kidding. Frostburg State University alumna Jerica Bennett has recently taken on a project that is both unique and meaningful to her. Bennett, who graduated in 2013 from the university, says she was sexually assaulted off campus during her final semester. She has therefore decided to begin the process of starting a non-profit organization dedicated to victims of sexual assault.
The organization, titled “Peacocks in Pearls,” is on the road to officially becoming recognized by the state of Maryland as a non-profit organization. Bennett wishes for her organization to become a valuable resource for other women who have experienced sexual assault because she knows what it is like to go through “a rollercoaster of emotions” after such incidents. The defining idea of her organization is that women who are victims of sexual assault are not actually victims or survivors, but warriors.
Bennett plans to go beyond having a website and raising funds, however. She has expressed her desire to travel to different schools to speak about her experience and serve as an advocate. Bennett stated, “I do want to share my story because I have actually lived it.” In addition, Bennett hopes that her charity will be able to assist with establishing scholarships to help women continue their education after being assaulted. She also hopes for the organization to one day be able to provide funds to assault victims for psychological help or attorney fees.
Bennett says that she has helped 10 women—two of which were FSU students—so far, but plans to increase that number. “Each of them has told me that it is so nice to have someone to talk to who understands.” Increasing awareness of the organization will help Bennett be able to reach out to more women who have gone through what she has.
“Fortunately for me I had the help that I needed, but that isn’t there for everyone. Many women take to alcohol, drugs, or suicide. Personally for me, if I hadn’t graduated a year early, I probably would have dropped out,” said Bennett. According to Bennett, the strong support system she has is what helped her make it through her situation.
Bennett says she wants to be able to be a support person for woman in these situations because she knows the value it can have. That is ultimately, what inspired her to found her non-profit organization. According to Bennett, after one of these situations women often feel rough like a piece of sand, but over time they evolve into something beautiful like a pearl, hence the name of the organization. The other part of the organization’s name “peacocks” stems from the association of the beautiful creature to nobility, holiness, guidance, protection, and watchfulness.
Currently, Bennett is raising money on the Peacocks in Pearls website for the filing fees associated with becoming a recognized non-profit organization by the State of Maryland. Bennett has set up a link where people who are interested may donate, and she is also selling t-shirts to raise both awareness and funds for or the cause.
For those who are interested in becoming involved or helping with the cause, visit Bennett’s website at http://www.peacocksinpearls.com/ where you can find more information about the meaning behind the name of the organization, as well as how you can help be a warrior against sexual assault.