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Survivor to activist

By staff |
February 4, 2018
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Jacksonville FL - With the emergence of the Me Too movement, there has been a solid wave of solidarity among survivors of sexual abuse which has ultimately created a positive momentum regarding an otherwise silent topic. The topic of sexual violence however, can oftentimes be very dangerous to discuss publicly. Coalition for Consent is a local group in Jacksonville that fights to educate people about consent and help survivors of sexual violence. CFC has hosted a variety of actions and events from rallies to workshops for survivors.

Jessica Pounds has been attending Coalition for Consent events. The events are a mix of classroom style and therapy style sessions to arm people with knowledge, resources and confidence to combat abuse. The classes are hosted by Coalition for Consent’s founder and Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) member Christina Kittle and the LGBTQ+ youth advocate from the Women’s Center of Jacksonville Sarah Humphreys. Knowing that she was part of this community, Pounds reached to Coalition for Consent for help.

Pounds, a local musician and youth facilitator for the national non-profit Girls Inc., publicly warned people about the man who raped her. Her attacker then responded to this by sending novel-length messages to the local art scene describing many of Jessica’s private moments within their relationship, without her consent, as his explanation of why she was “crazy” - a term famously and conveniently tagged onto people who are vocal about their sexual abuse. Jessica’s own inner strength, along with support from others, helped keep her fighting back.

“It was important to show that she isn’t alone in this,” Kittle explained. “So I thought one thing that could help would be building a care package with some gifts and encouraging words from the community.”

The impact of this gesture though, was more than the group could have ever anticipated. “I have all of those letters surrounding me. They have given me so much strength,” said Pound. “I left my partner who I learned was gaslighting me into silence, and just was not very supportive at all, as well as my ‘friends’ that were saying they understood ‘both sides of the story,’ because they really were just holding me down and hurting me, so yeah I felt alone. The community showed me that my fight meant something though, it helped so much - I ugly cried!” Gaslighting is manipulating someone into questioning their own sanity.

The Women’s Center of Jacksonville was able to help her legally get the bogus slander charges against her dismissed. Pounds was exhausted but decided to keep fighting for women’s liberation.

While her attacker denied the accusations out of one side of his mouth, he eventually admitted to violating consent, admitting Pounds was right about his crimes all along. This is a victory in the difficult world of consent work.

Jessica went a step further and became a permanent member of Jacksonville’s Coalition for Consent. “I want to fight. I want to keep fighting. I want to be the hammer that breaks to cycle of abuse and I want to help others be the hammer, too.”