Flint native to host annual Trauma Awareness Walk in downtown Flint

Editor's note: The Trauma Awareness Walk has been postponed until 2023

FLINT, Michigan — Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. 

The statistics are alarming: one in six American women will experience an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. One out of every ten men is the victim of rape and nearly half of all transgender people have experienced sexual assault. 

April is sexual assault awareness month. Throughout the month, organizations across the country aim to raise visibility for the cause. Workplaces, communities, and colleges and universities are taking this opportunity to work to influence behaviors and encourage respect. 

On Saturday, May 21, Pretty Tough Women’s Empowerment Corporation will do its part to raise awareness by hosting its annual Trauma Awareness Walk in downtown Flint. 

Founded in 2017 by Flint native Esha Wooten, Pretty Tough began as an online group for survivors of trauma and sexual assault. The organization’s mission is to uplift women and girls while building sisterhood and supporting the community. 

PTWEco’s slogan “We didn’t GO through it together but we can GET through it together” invites survivors into a safe space where they can be supported by people who have experienced their own traumas. 

Wooten says her desire to start PTWEco began as a result of her own experiences with sexual assault. She first found inspiration to form the group while scrolling through social media where she noticed other women and girls using the platforms to share their personal stories. "I wanted to give other women and girls support that I didn’t have in my life.”  

Nearly a year after founding the group, Wooten was inspired to transform the challenges and triumphs of PTWEco members into a book. She sought stories from members and compiled fourteen individual stories of reflection, inspiration, and triumph into a text titled, “Not Damaged.” One chapter in the book, chapter 15, is left blank as an invitation for readers to add their respective narratives to the text and know they are not alone. 
Flyer for the Trauma Awareness Walk.
Her next steps were to establish the organization as a non-profit. Wooten was deliberate in the formation of PTWEco and enlisted the support of members from across the nation who work in social services and health care fields, including a sexual assault nurse examiner and a master’s level social worker. The organization’s work expanded to include individual and family support, summer youth programs, scholarships, and a clothing closet. Programs also include self-care workgroups and a national volunteer cleaning service for women experiencing mental health challenges. Many of the organization’s initiatives are funded by financial donations.

The organization recently hosted a mother-daughter formal in March in Dallas, Georgia. Wooten says they are focused on expanding the work throughout the country. There are plans to expand the trauma awareness walk to four additional states in 2023, including areas of the country where board members reside. 

Wooten says she looks forward to partnering with other organizations that support survivors of trauma and sexual assault, including the YWCA and community mental health organizations. She is committed to bringing together people who are committed to doing the work of supporting survivors in every aspect of their journey. 

Next month’s annual Trauma Awareness Walk and Empowerment Event is an opportunity for survivors and supporters to come together. The day’s events will begin at 10:00 a.m with a walk-a-thon starting at International Academy. The empowerment event will take place at Saginaw St. and First St. in downtown Flint. The fee is $30 and participants are encouraged to RSVP. Additional opportunities to get involved with PTWEco can be found here.

Teal ribbon-inspired merchandise for women, men, and children is also available. The ribbon is used as a symbol to raise awareness about sexual assault. 

For more information about Pretty Tough Women’s Empowerment Corporation and the Trauma Awareness Walk, visit: prettytoughwe.com

Read more articles by Qiana Towns.