‘Tis the season of giving and thinking of others. Some people who might not normally be on your mind, but could use a message of support are those who are serving their time behind bars and dealing with unintended suffering that’s not a part of their sentence — prison rape. It has never been easier to send a message of support and hope to survivors of sexual assault during incarceration.
Each year over the holidays, Just Detention International, a human-rights organization whose mission is ending sexual abuse in detention, collects and delivers holiday messages for survivors of prison rape.
Anyone interested in sending a message can visit the website by clicking here.
JDI then promises to deliver the message to a survivor in time for the holidays.
The group’s website features stories from survivors who describe the positive effects holiday wishes of good cheer can have on an often bleak existence.
JDI shared the stories of survivors who have received and greatly appreciated some of these messages with Splinter News. They include Sarah’s, who says she has dealt with years of abuse and harassment in an Indiana prison. She related:
“This was my fifth consecutive Christmas in solitary confinement, and with the help of people who care, I was able to feel at ease. I made a little tree out of a magazine and set up my cards around it to remind me that I am not forgotten.”
Ca’Linda, a survivor of repeated sexual assaults in a Kentucky prison, said:
“I often wonder if anyone cares, if I’m truly as alone as I often feel. Today I received a lot of cards from the JDI supporters, and as I read them I cried tears of joy. I’ve been in solitary isolation for four years, and I’ve often regretted telling on my abuser, but today I’m glad I did, because I know there are people out there who genuinely care. I can’t thank you enough for letting me know I’m not forgotten. That I matter even though I’m alone. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Ricardo, a survivor of numerous sexual assaults in a Georgia prison, said that he gained “inner strength” from the messages of support. William, who has been the victim of sexual assault in a Missouri prison, said that the cards from JDI were the only ones he received, saying: “Had it not been for those cards, I’d have felt counted among the living dead.”
The JDI website also offers help in composing a message for anyone who is unsure about what to write. Examples include:
- “The holidays can be a tough time, but I want you to know that you are not alone. I stand with you, and your courage is incredible.”
- “I can’t imagine your struggle, but I admire your bravery for speaking out and know that there are people out there who care. Happy Holidays.”
- “I will be thinking of you during the holidays and sending you my love. You are stronger than you know.”
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