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Survivors of military sexual trauma group launches project to give survivors a voice 

The support platform ‘It’s Just 700’ recently launched The Hand Project, a collection of powerful images that define the circumstances of a sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) have been asked to anonymously and briefly write both the place and perpetrator of the sexual assault. Perpetrators are also kept anonymous.

“The point of this is not a way of creating a second judge and jury. It’s a really a way to give people a voice and break isolation,” said Marie-Claude Gagnon, founder of It’s Just 700.

Although the campaign only launched last week, already more than 2,000 people have viewed the more than 20 images and helped connect 12 new survivors to the platform.

“I did not know how people would accept it but it seems to be that people are open to it,” noted Gagnon.

The founder of It’s Just 700, and MST survivor herself, hopes that this new project will help break the isolation for MST survivors and give them a sense of community. It’s Just 700 was founded to give MST survivors a platform for support and information on resources. It was founded not long after the External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces in 2015.

“It makes people feel less alone. Whether or not they are ready to go into a Facebook group, at least in public media they can access something anonymously, some information, that makes them feel that ‘the day I’m ready, I know there’s a place I can belong to with people who have similar experiences to me,’” said Gagnon.

In addition, the project will help to bring awareness to the issue of MST.

“My goal is to get the word out that it does happen,” commented Gagnon.

The project is also a visible reminder of how sexual assault in the military can often differ.

“Sometimes when you look at where people were assaulted it gives an idea… if you’re in the middle of the ocean what would you be doing in this circumstance? If they [general public] try to position themselves in this they can see that yes there are events that happen after a Christmas party but often, so there are circumstances that are pretty unique to a military setting,” said Gagnon

To view the entire collection of The Hand Project, visit Its Just 700.

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MIshall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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