The “Zero F’s Given” Campaign Fights For The Forgotten Survivors Of Sexual Violence
The Center for Safety and Change (The Center) and Anita Kopacz are tackling sexual violence awareness with their national “Zero F’s Given” campaign. The campaign, which launched on November 11 with support from celebrities like Angela Rye, Cyn Santana, and Alicia Garza, is getting the word out about sexual violence, specifically surrounding disenfranchised groups.
“There’s less and less support,” said Anita, the campaign’s creator and former editor-in-chief of Heart & Soul Magazine. “It’s more in the shadows and it’s not just a racial issue but when it happens to people of color and Black people, in particular, it’s swept under the rug and in older generations it was considered normal like, ‘Oh that’s just uncle Lenny.'”
“Sexual violence is not just a woman’s issue; it has no boundaries whether socio-economic, cultural, racial or class distinctions. It is one of society’s major problems sometimes hidden in plain sight,” Kopacz continued. “The high cost of the physical, financial, and psychological toll it exacts – is the reason I continue to fight and be an ally for victims and survivors.
Anita, a survivor herself, made sure to reach out to individuals who inspired her, and who had also been public about surviving sexual abuse. The campaign is not only meant to raise awareness, but the proceeds raised from the merchandise will be funneled back into The Center for Safety and Change, which is dedicated to helping victimized people work through their trauma.
Along with Rye, Santana, Garza, several other celebrity ambassadors like June Ambrose and Malaak Compton-Rock, posed in Zero F’s Given T-shirts snapped by celebrity photographer Keith Major, to share the images on social media. Anita also hopes this campaign will help survivors find their power.
“It’s directly related to your power center when you’re sexually assaulted,” said Anita, who also serves on the board for The Center. So when people work on it and go in and understand that it’s not their fault, there’s a lot of shame that victims go through. We then receive support and heal those things, and we’re able to stand in our power.” Anita revealed that she once found herself backing down from disagreements, mainly because she struggled to stand in her own awareness.
“Sexual violence is different than a black eye because it literally penetrates in different areas of your psyche, and soul,” she said. “And it’s confusing because it can be pleasurable—and it was confusing. I thought pleasure was bad and it just brings in that whole confusion and it’s often times hidden, whereas a black eye can be hidden too, but those heal. Both have their horrible mess to it.”
When it comes to Black women, the statistics are staggering in terms of reporting sexual violence. For every 15 Black women who are raped, only one reports her assault, according to a report by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. In addition to the silence black women are traditionally forced into by society or familial pressures, they must also deal with the perversion of their sexuality and tropes that muddy the credibility of their reports. Black girls are often sexualized before they reach puberty and more than 18 percent of African-American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime according to a 2016 Violence Against Women report.
Anita hopes the campaign will inspire women to come forward and take advantage of the resources The Center provides, like shelter, counseling, rape kits and tools a survivor may need.
“You are not alone,” Anita said. “This has happened to so many of us.”