Teal week, which falls each year in the midst of April, is designated as a time to commemorate the plethora of experiences faced by sexual assault survivors both on St. Lawrence’s campus and off. As teal week events wound to a close last Saturday, the final event of the week: What She Knows, was presented to students in Gunnison Memorial Chapel.
What She Knows: One Woman’s Way Through Incest to Joy is a one-woman play created by Donna Jensen, a survivor of childhood incest.
The play depicts Jensen’s journey from childhood to adulthood, and is meant to show the dual nature of growing up in a sexually abusive family; while there are many low points, there are also many joys.
Jensen’s play chronicles her life, with the story line beginning prior to her childhood abuse and then progressing to include events in her adult life. Jensen uses the play to express the varied feelings which she underwent during these times, including a period in which she attempted to run away from home, but was unable to do so.
In an effort to educate individuals on childhood sexual assault and its effects, Jensen has performed her play at various institutions, including universities, police departments, correctional facilities, and the like.
Jensen has also created an organization, Time to Tell, which is focused on generating the stories of individuals who have survived incest and sexual abuse; she encourages survivors of both incest and sexual abuse to not only come forward and tell their stories, but she also offers an example of someone who has used their experience as a means of aiding fellow survivors.
Prior to her creation of Time to Tell in 2009, Jensen founded a variety of grassroots women’s centers in New York City in the 1970’s and 1980’s. While she has devoted much of her time to Time to Tell since its creation, she continues to be a “leadership trainer and organizer,” according to Time to Tell’s website.
Multiple students who attended the event [who asked to remain unnamed] said that the play was incredibly powerful. One student stated, “As a survivor of childhood assault, I found this play to be reminiscent of my own experiences. It reminded me that while recovery is a lifelong process, there is much to look forward to. The healing process is like a trail chalked full of peaks and valleys.”
After the play portion of the event was over, Jensen opened the floor to questions from the audience. While she recorded each of the questions posed, she made sure to record neither the personal information of the questioner nor the answers to the questions.
Though Teal Weak is now over, the St. Lawrence community has proven that there are always individuals on this campus that ready to listen to, and give aid through whatever means necessary, to survivors of sexual assault.