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Onslow Women’s Shelter puts sexual assault awareness on full display

The exhibit shares the stories of survivors of sexual assault, specifically what they were wearing when it happened in the hope to dispel the stigma that it could have played a part in the attack.
Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 3:58 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A display in the Onslow Women’s Shelter’s thrift store, Finders Keepers, is shining a light on a common misconception about sexual assault.

The display shares the stories of survivors of sexual assault around the necks of mannequins, dressed in what they were wearing at the time of their attack.

“It’s painful,” shared Store Manager Maria Justice, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, herself. “But, it’s also needed to spread the awareness.”

It’s part of the shelter’s remembrance of sexual assault awareness month. The shelter hopes the display will dispel the myth that a women’s clothing played a part in her attack. The displays include a range of outfits, from sweats to business attire to children’s clothing, representing kids who experience sexual abuse at a young age.

“Everyone has their story,” said Justice. “And everyone has to figure out how to survive that story.”

It’s also a reminder for customers of what they’re supporting when they shop at the store.

“The thrift store helps fund these services for survivors,” said Melissa Radomicki, the associate director of the shelter. “So, the thrift store is a key part of our team here. Displaying it here was a very tactical decision because a lot of shoppers are going to come in and they’re gonna be reminded that while they’re shopping here, what they’re buying and what they’re paying for is going toward survivors.”

The exhibit will be on display in the store for the rest of the week, as a reminder of the time after such a life-altering event, and that survivors of sexual assault are not alone in having to overcome a stigma that is too often placed on them.

“I can go home at night and know that I’m in a better spot, and that there’s a place for people to go that are in the situation that I was in as a younger age,” said Justice.

The shelter’s next event for sexual assault awareness month will be its ‘Take Back the Night’ march on Wednesday, April 28 at 5:30pm at the Freedom Fountain in Jacksonville.

If you are in need of resources, contact the shelter’s crisis line at (910) 347-4000.

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