April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, a devastating topic that touches us all. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women in the United States has experienced or attempted rape in her lifetime; and nationally, 81% of women said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime. To help local victims of sexual assault in their recovery, Phoenix business owner and sexual assault survivor Heidi Koffman is starting a new creative healing support group for adult female survivors of sexual assault.
“Six years ago after being sexually assaulted, and the only thing I needed was a creative outlet for healing and a dedicated support group for female survivors of sexual assault,” said Koffman, owner of Craft Nights, an arts and crafts studio in North Phoenix, said. “I couldn’t find one easily. I hope to change that with the creation of “Art in the Afternoon”, a support group for adult women recovering from sexual assault. We meet monthly so we don’t feel alone and have the opportunity to heal from trauma through art and creativity.
The first Art in the Afternoon meeting will take place on Sunday, April 24, from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and every third Sunday of the month after the initial date. (The May date is May 22, and so on.) The new monthly event takes place at Grounded32, a community center dedicated to mindfulness and creative healing, located at 13651 N. 32nd St. in Phoenix. Participation in the event is free, but donations are welcome.
“I grew up with a Jewish father and was immersed in all the holidays that I still cherish today,” Koffman explained. “From this experience, I learned the importance of community, culture, love and forgiveness.”
Koffman is partnering with two local nonprofits to help power the monthly event: Grounded32, which provides the meeting space, and the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, which will provide brochures and resources for additional help survivors may need. Craft Nights and Grounded32 will provide art supplies for each monthly project.
“Art and creativity are integral to my healing and I wanted to have a space and a group where creativity and healing could exist for survivors by survivors,” she said.
With the date of the first meeting coming up, Koffman has high expectations for the future of the event.
“My hope for this group is that other women who have experienced sexual violence will come together and realize that they are not alone in their thoughts, their struggles and their journey to healing,” Koffman added. “And that by creating this group, friendships are formed and we create a community of healing.” jn
To RSVP for this group or for more information about this event, visit grounded32.org or email [email protected]
If you have been the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, help is available. Tell someone immediately by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY) or calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673 ). Locally, victims can contact the Arizona Sexual and Domestic Violence Hotline at 602-279-2980 or by text at 520-720-3383 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with extended hours on Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Of course, if in doubt, dial 9-1-1. Visit acesdv.org/get-help-now for local information and resources.
Michelle Talsma Everson is a freelance writer, editor and occasional public relations professional.