University of South Carolina senior Jenna Scalfani was 18-years-old when she was sexually assaulted a few years ago on the University of South Carolina campus. When Scalfani’s alleged perpetrator was found not guilty, she said her dream university became a living nightmare.
To avoid reoccurring nightmares mimicking her sexual assault trauma, Scalfani would go to the gas station and buy 24-packs of soda to help her avoid sleeping.
Her story is far too familiar to many others. Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted according to RAINN.ORG, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. But today, a Midlands-based organization is seeking to help those like Scalfani heal following an assault and to help others avoid those assaults altogether.
SASS GO – surviving assault and standing strong – the non profit was created by Shannon Henry with the mission to “eradicate trafficking, violence and abuse against women globally.”
The program teaches girls and women self defense techniques, while also providing a community for survivors, though small group discussions and the bond the members create.
Scalfani remembers her first day in SASS, explaining the class already felt like a safe space. “It was a community. I was adopted into a community where women and survivors go to get support and get help they need.”
Scalfani said that after just four weeks in the program she was able to begin escaping her nightmares.
“Instead of being a helpless victim, I was able to fight back in my dreams, and I was able to escape,” she said. “That was the night I told myself you’re gonna be okay, you’re gonna get through this.”
Scalfani, now a volunteer with SASS, said the program is “near and dear to my heart, but essential to my healing.”
The SASS community has taught Scalfani that “you are strong, you are loved, and you have purpose.” Her goal now is to help advance the mission and to enable new members “see the light in them, that’s already there, and just let them know it’s there and help them let it shine.”
SASS GO, seeks to eradicate abuse, assault, and trafficking globally through education, intervention training, and crisis response solutions.
SASS GO offers classes at the University of South Carolina and in the community to empower women.
Shannon Henry, president and founder of SASS Go, is a wife, mother, teacher, friend and survivor.
University of South Carolina senior Jenna Scalfani says SASS GO changed her life and now she is a volunteer and mentor.