This article discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call RAINN's national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for confidential support.

MILWAUKEE — In Wisconsin, about 1.2 million adults have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.  

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and one Milwaukee woman is on a mission to empower survivors and to educate the community on prevention.

Samantha Collier is the founder of Team Teal 365. It’s a nonprofit organization aiming to encourage a dialogue about sexual assault.

“1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be or has been sexually assaulted in their lifetime,” said Collier. 

She said as a survivor of sexual assault herself, she wanted to use her experience to help other young people who may have faced a traumatic experience. 

Team Teal 365 offers wellness workshops, support groups and trainings. They make their way into local schools, nonprofits and corporations.

“It’s all about thriving and growing through it,” Collier said. “I’m just reaching back and grabbing some more survivors. My story is millions of men and women’s stories.” 

Collier started Paint the City Teal Day in 2015 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Paint the City Teal Day is celebrated by wearing teal and decorating spaces in teal to show support for survivors. Team Teal 365 uses this day to spread awareness and educate the community on ways to prevent sexual violence.

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

Collier said in 2021, former Mayor Tom Barrett proclaimed April 2 as Paint the City Teal Day. Many Milwaukee buildings and landmarks now commemorate the day by illuminating in teal colors and lights. This includes City Hall, the Mitchell Park Domes, the Hoan Bridge and more. 

Collier said it’s her mission to help empower and advocate for all victims and survivors, not just in Milwaukee, but everywhere. 

“I’m grateful to be one of those innovative grass-roots changers,” said Collier. “I’m just one vessel to say I will not stand for it and I want to help others.” 

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

She said she hopes her ongoing work in the community inspires others to know they’re not alone. 

“God is my peace,” she said. “My faith is what keeps me together. Telling your story gives you validation. It gives you power back.” 

While many gathered officially to paint the city teal on April 2, Collier said you can participate all month long.