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Sexual assault survivors in Palm Beach County prepare to speak out

Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 17:54:24-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control reports one in three women and one in four men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, but many cases go unreported.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Palm Beach County advocates are giving victims a voice to help others come forward.

It’s a personal mission for Sharon Daugherty, a sexual assault outreach coordinator who said she was sexually assaulted by her biological father from the ages of six to 16.

"What I bring is a unique perspective of being an outspoken healed survivor who literally is like a magnet for other survivors to open up and trust that I’ve gone the path," Daugherty said. "I’ve done my healing. Come on, let’s go. Let me bring you with me. Let me lift you up."

One of her agency’s initiatives for the month of April is a display of jeans, visible to drivers along North Australian Avenue in West Palm Beach with statements of empowerment from sexual assault survivors she’s helped.

Daugherty said she understands the impact of expression.

"Well they all resonate with me because these are expressions of healing," Daugherty said.

Daugherty added even during the era of the Me Too movement, no demographic is protected.

The public is invited to hear directly from the survivors who created the display and other survivors during a 'Field of Hope Survivor Speak Out' on Tuesday, April 2 outside the Palm Beach County Victims Services Center.

"This is the voice of the victims, letting others know, and people on the outside know that I stand tall. I stay strong. I’m a survivor," said Carol Messam-Gordon, Palm Beach County Victims Services & Rape Crisis Center program coordinator.

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