Peek starts organization to help empower survivors of sexual trauma

Dawn Peek (senior network analyst, Technical Operations Center) recently founded the My Sister’s Keepers of Atlanta, an organization “empowering women to move from behind the shadows of their pasts after experiencing sexual trauma.”

“I am a thriving survivor of sexual assault,” says Dawn.

Her organization works with women who are survivors of sexual assault. Their goal is to help women to tell their stories in a safe space where they can learn not to let their experiences define who they are today and beyond. “There is victory after sexual assault,” says Dawn.

The idea began when Dawn delivered a speech about her own personal trauma to over 400 girls at an event in 2018. The event, called “Go Get Our Girls,” was held at Woodland Middle School in East Point, GA. The goal was to help sixth through eighth-grade girls to find the strength to overcome the abuse in their lives.

“We help women blossom from their state of vulnerability.” – Dawn Peek

Following the event, an audience member posted a video of Dawn’s speech on Facebook and suddenly she began receiving a tremendous outpouring from fellow survivors who could relate to her experience, thanking her for sharing her story so publicly. “I realized right then I was being led to start a support group,” says Dawn.

Dawn reached out to Linda Richardson (senior administrative assistant for NDB) to help her find a location for the group. With the support of Kim Comstock and John Ellis, they began holding meetings in NDB. “This is an example of how Emory believes in community,” says Linda.

There are multiple components to the organization. One component, called HerStory, is a support group that meets once a month in a conference room in the North Decatur Building. They also maintain a 24×7 closed Facebook group through which to provide additional care. The group caters to only women and is open to the entire community, not just Emory students, faculty and staff.

Raising awareness against sex trafficking and sexual assault during the Super Bowl Atlanta 2019.

“We help women blossom from their state of vulnerability,” says Dawn. She believes the group setting gives her members a shared camaraderie so that they do not have to suffer alone or in silence.

A challenge the group faces is that people are often in different emotional states regarding their experiences. While one person is telling their story to the group, another person may be in a trigger state, potentially unable to handle the rush of feelings. “We are careful to let people know what the meetings will be like and also use the header ‘Trigger Alert’ for any Facebook post that mentions details that might upset someone.”

This month, the group has invited a police officer who specializes in sexual crimes to present in their meeting. They are also planning an etiquette class for helping members to maintain their control in times of emotional stress, and a meditation class.

The group also plans to view the “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit that went on display this week in the Woodruff Library. Located in the library’s first-level spiral stairwell, the exhibit features a poem that helps eliminate myths regarding sexual assault, as well as victim testimonials. CONTENT WARNING – This exhibit contains powerful imagery and descriptions of gender-based violence.

Please utilize self-care as needed. For support contact: Respect (24/7 Confidential Hotline) Emory at 470-270-5360 or STA Care Center at 785-843-8985.

For more information about My Sister’s Keepers of Atlanta, email Dawn at info [at] iammysk [dot] org. You can also visit the group at their website, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

 

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