CLAYTON — According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four woman will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
To change that statistic, nearly three dozen women attended a fundraiser April 28 for Harbor Inc., the Johnston County nonprofit that provides aid, including shelter, to victims of rape and domestic violence.
The idea for the fundraiser was born a month earlier, when Clayton newcomer Elaine Rex felt compelled to give back to the new community. “I’m new to this area,” she said. “I felt very blessed to learn Harbor was such a resource for the community. I wanted to find a great opportunity to help support them.”
So Rex partnered with Amanda Owens, owner of Wine and Design, a new business in the Flowers Crossroads shopping center that hosts a monthly “Paint It Forward.” On those nights, the shop donates 25 percent of its earnings, and Owens agreed that Harbor would be a worthy recipient.
Harbor is Johnston County’s lone shelter for abuse victims. Wilma Hampton, coordinator of Harbor’s sexual-assault program, said the shelter had aided 30 abuse victims since the first of the year. And the actual number of assaults is likely much higher, she said, because only 38 percent of victims report the abuse.
At the fundraiser, the women in attendance cried when Four Oaks resident Darla Percy spoke to the crowd before the painting party. Now an employee of Harbor, Percy and her three children turned to Harbor for help 16 years ago.
“I’m very passionate about Harbor,” Percy said. “It changed my whole future. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be standing here.”
Among Harbor’s needs are donations to its capital building fund. Its aging shelter needs an electrical system upgrade and room for expansion.
Clayton resident Leticia Goff attended the event with her two daughters, Caitlynn, 17, and Ashlynn, 15. She said Percy’s message made a powerful impact on her family.
“I’m glad my girls were able to listen to this and understand that this (sexual assault) really does happen,” she Goff.
“It was emotional to hear a survivor’s story,” Rex said. “I know it will stick with us in our hearts for years to come. It was courageous of her to stand up and tell her story in order to empower other women.”