Survivors of sex abuse hope to inspire and educate at upcoming convention

Shamora Carter is a playwright accustomed to telling others’ stories. On Saturday, July 20, she’ll tell hers.

“I’m going to be talking for the first time,” said Carter, organizer of the We Believe You Sexual Abuse Awareness Convention.

“(Sexual abuse) is something I experienced when I was younger,” Carter said.

The convention will be at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8058 at 3475 Douglas Ave., Fort Pierce, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s a place for survivors and for people who want to be educated,” Carter said. “There are going to be different motivational speakers and survivor speakers sharing their stories.”

One is William Grimison. Another is Sharon Strouse.

There are others including Margaret Schumacher, who experienced military sexual trauma. She’s now a volunteer yoga instructor with Connected Warriors, an organization that works with veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder including MST.

Carter said sexual trauma therapist Karina Priest will also be speaking.

“I have Rich Williams there,” Carter added. “He’s running for sheriff. He’ll have law education” to help people understand how to get law enforcement involved in investigating suspected or known sexual violence.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the nature of sexual violence makes developing reliable statistics impossible. Nevertheless, the CDC estimates a third of woman and a quarter of men experience sexual violence involving some level of physical contact sometime in their lives. It estimates that 20 percent of women have experienced attempted or completed rapes as the term is generally understood to mean non-consensual, forcible penetration. While researchers believe men experience sexual violence involving some form of penetration far less often than women, the CDC says it does happen.

The CDC further reports that children and youths are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault, abuse and violence. About a third of female rape victims are 11 to 17 years old the first time it occurs. Rape victims often experience multiple attacks throughout their lives, according to researchers. About one in eight rape victims are 10 and younger.

“Statistically speaking, 93 percent of sexual abuse victims know their attacker,” Carter said. “That’s something that bothers me. A lot of it happens to children.”

Carter hasn’t sought and doesn’t have backing from any organization, although some local agencies will be on hand to discuss their services.

“This one is all me,” Carter said. “I’m not a part of an organization. I do want to make it into something.”

She explained it’s just become apparent to her that survivors and their supporters, along with concerned citizens, on the Treasure Coast needed a positive event to discuss sexual violence.

“I just want everyone to come out and want to be educated,” Carter said. “To know the signs.”

Carter also hopes survivors make helpful connections at We Believe You. “Even if it’s making a friend there you can talk to when you have flashbacks,” she said.

Carter added, “I want people to join me in trying to stop this.”

There’s a Facebook event page titled “‘We Believe You’ Sexual Abuse Awareness.” People can make reservations, or contact Carter, at webelieveyou@gmail.com, or by calling 772-204-6435.

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