Danville, VA - April is sexual assault awareness month, but one Southside woman is dedicated to spreading that message year-round.
Her commitment to the cause stems from personal experience.
Sue Fowler was sexually abused as a child, but as an adult, she began telling her story to help other victims become survivors.
"He was my very best friend. I had the daddy that I always wanted, that I had never had...it seemed like, " Fowler said.
Sue Fowler was adopted as a toddler, but after reuniting with her birth parents at age 12 and developing a bond with her father, the relationship soon took a dark turn.
"My father decides to pull down a dirt road and he held a knife to my throat and told me that if I ever told anybody that I knew what would happen, " she said.
Fowler lived through the horror of abuse until she escaped from her home at 18.
"I was just so tired of all of it. I was so tired and fed up of being betrayed, " she said.
As an adult, she became an advocate for other victims.
She says the harsh reality is that 1 in 3 girls will be sexually abused before they reach adulthood.
"If you do those numbers, it's astonishing, " she said.
Earlier this month, Fowler shared her story at a downtown rally attended by officials and friends.
Soon after, local law enforcement officers placed blue support ribbons on their cars.
As she continues this mission through her "Finding Your Voice, Speaking Your Truth" Facebook page, Fowler hopes to send this message to other victims who feel like they are suffering alone.
"It's not your fault. You're not to blame. Find the courage, the strength, the wisdom to find your voice and speak your truth, " she said.
Fowler has created a magazine that features tips on prevention, support and healing.
It will be available April 30th at the following locations: Centra Mental Health, Piedmont Credit Union, Danville Pittsylvania Community Services, Danville Area Humane Society, Caldwell Banker Johnson Realty - Candy Lewis and Marybeth's Salon.
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/FindingYourVoiceSpeakingYourTruth.
The April 2 rally was organized by victim advocate Mary Jones with the YWCA of Central Virginia Sexual Assault Response Program, along with Trish McDowell and Sarah Owen of the Attorney General's Office.
For more information about victim services in Danville, Pittsylvania County or Halifax County, contact Mary Jones at 434-710-7124.