Hello, friendlets! Last year we shared the Words of Hope project with yourselves, which sends holiday cards to survivors of prison rape as part of Just Detention International.
As we do every year, Just Detention International is asking people to write holiday greetings to incarcerated survivors of rape. For so many survivors, this simple gesture, even from a stranger, is a profound reminder that they are not alone or forgotten.
Here’s what Dwight, a Texas prisoner who has been sexually abused repeatedly while in the state’s custody, told us about the campaign: “I have a JDI file in my cell with all my holiday cards. When I feel low, I re-read them. Anytime I’m a little depressed, I reach my hand into my JDI folder and pull out a random card.”
“I just got all of the cards and kind words from supporters all around the world. Thank you. You have all given me strength and support in every sense. I’m still being put through torture… but I’ve still survived with your help! I have been stuck in the “poor me” feeling sorry for myself, and thinking that I’m all alone just because I never get any mail. Once again ya’ll are there to open my eyes and fill my heart.” — William*
“It is so easy to feel alone and abandoned in here, but cards like those you sent help me remember that there are people — hundreds of them — behind the scenes doing what they are able to do to help those of us who are alone in here.” — Cindy
“Thank you very much for the Christmas cards. I was feeling very lonely and tortured in the cement box then my name was called for legal mail and I was not alone. Your cards really brought ease to my long suffering heart. Thank you all very, very much.” — Michael
“Thank you for your support and the xmas cards. There are no words that would or could express my gratitude for taking the time to do this. I made a collage on my wall and read them. I received them this morning and have read them over and over again. From someone who has been abused and mistreated during their entire life, to know that there are this many people in the world who care enough for this small but grand gesture, nothing can be said to express the magnitude or gracious feeling that is pounding through my heart and soul.” — Karma
“Please tell everyone that sent me cards and the flyer that I’ve got all my cards on my desk in a special arranged order. And I’ve got the flyer posted on my wall above my cards. They all meant so much to me. To the point where I was crying in my cell.” — Michael
“I received your letter and greeting cards yesterday. I was so shocked. It was like a floodgate opened inside me and I cried. Cried tears of pain, sufferings I still feel tremendously inside…Thank you for the Christmas cards. They were so beautifully worded and just for those few moments I for once felt safe.” — Will
If you’re interested in participating, you can do so here; it’s a wonderful and free way to fling some empathy into a darkling, sorrowful world at an often-difficult time of year.
*Names have been changed.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.