On Saturday, April 24 Pee Dee Coalition’s Marlboro County staff and community leaders held a march to raise awareness of sexual assault and honor April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The “KnowMore” march, named after the Coalition’s April theme “KnowMore,” kicked off at 10 a.m. at The Skye in downtown Bennettsville where community leaders in Marlboro County and Nefateri Smalls, a survivor and advocate, shared messages about sexual violence. After the presentations, participants marched down Broad and Main Street. Lead organizers from Pee Dee Coalition were County Coordinator Wendy Woods and Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Cox.
Organizers hoped that the event would bring visibility to the prevalence of sexual violence and local resources provided by Pee Dee Coalition’s Satellite Crisis Center in Marlboro County. The center offers services for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Coalition also provides services to victims and survivors of child abuse through its child advocacy center, The Elizabeth Pettigrew Durant Children’s Center, which has locations in Florence, Darlington and Sumter counties.
Visitors of the event enjoyed a light breakfast provided by Magnolia on Main as they heard from key members of the community, including South Carolina State Representative Patricia Moore Henegan and Bennettsville Mayor, Dr. Carolyn Prince. Visitors also heard from sexual assault survivor and advocate, Nefateri Smalls, who shared her story and the importance of local support and healing. Attendees were inspired by Smalls message, which evoked powerful emotions throughout her presentation.
“Sometimes I need a visual to help me understand what I’m talking about… so I have a question, and it’s not a trick! I have twenty dollars. Who wants it? (Smalls holds up the twenty-dollar bill in her hand and begins to crumble it up, she then puts it on the ground and stomps on it). Who wants it?
The value of a thing doesn’t change because of what has happened to it. The value was determined by that twenty-dollar bill before I balled it up, before I stepped on it. But a lot of times our outlook on the people who are around us is determined by what they go through.”
“I know in rooms like this, there is a Nefateri waiting for a hero. I know in rooms like this, there is a Nefateri who needs a napkin to wipe her tears. I know in rooms like this, my transparency is allowing someone else to see not the next day, just the next moment. Because a day is sometimes too much.” Nefateri Smalls-Nefateri Smalls
This April, community leaders and advocates like Smalls recognize the need for more awareness surrounding sexual violence. COVID-19 and unrest in the country has led to more severe cases of assault, less reporting, and more barriers to accessing help. The Coalition’s theme “KnowMore” was chosen because there is a need to know more about how these changes have impacted sexual violence, child abuse and family violence, and the means to access services necessary to heal. The unified representation from the Coalition and members of the Marlboro community showcased the true passion behind partnerships and community empowerment for survivors and victims of assault.
Read more about the KnowMore March here!
“After he was done and over I saw a dark figure pass me by and he looked back and shook his head as in a question, why? I then tried to befriend it and sat it upon my knee and before long I began to realize that discouraged soul was me.”A verse of a poem written by Nefateri Smalls when she was 14 after she was sexually assaulted.