“I didn’t call it sex, I called it ‘bad sex.’ I thought that
rape happened to other people, not to me,” a SAPAC volunteer said
while recounting how she came to terms with her rape
experience.

She was one of 10 female University students who recounted their
tales of rape, molestation and sexual assault last night at the
Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center’s 17th annual Speak
Out! in the Michigan Union Ballroom. The event served as an
opportunity for survivors of sexual assault to break the silence
often associated with such incidents in a supportive
environment.

Nearly 100 people waited in silence for five minutes, waiting
for someone to break the ice. After a period of contemplation, a
freshman student approached the podium and talked about her
experience with rape and sexual assault, the first incident
occurring in a janitor’s closet when she was in 8th grade. During
her first week at the University this year, she was date raped
after her brother’s wedding.

“It’s always harder when it’s someone you know and someone you
think you trust,” she said. “But I think things will be okay. I’m
working toward wanting to be around people but not needing them to
be around.”

Another 22-year-old woman detailed her rape experience while she
was in high school, when four teenagers kidnapped her after a
basketball game and each raped her in the woods. Her attackers
planned to leave her in the woods until one begged to bring her
home. “I feel weird because in a way I owe him my life, but he
raped me,” she said. After two criminal trials, her attackers were
found guilty.

Now married with a baby, she discussed the frustrating processes
survivors and their families go through, and said her husband still
could not manage to attend the event.

“I can understand why people don’t report this,” she said, as
she continued to explain that her peers wanted her to keep quiet,
and she lost many friends as a result.

SAPAC director Kelly Cichy said Speak Out was an excellent way
to come together and show support to the survivors. She also said
that the event’s continued success is a direct result of student
demand.

Event organizer Lindsay Jolley, a SAPAC member, said she was
very pleased with the evening.

“These are very important issues to be involved with,” said
Jolley, an LSA junior. “Survivors come to the forum and gain
strength off the stories of others.”

A SAPAC volunteer and graduate student explained that initially
she could not accept that she was actually raped. During her
freshman year at an East Coast college five years ago, a male
student she met at a party invited her to his “sauna room”
upstairs. The woman assured her friends she knew what she was
doing, and subsequently had sex upstairs while crying and repeating
“no.”

Though it took her months to realize the incident had deeply
affected her, she eventually received therapy and began to open up
with her friends.

“By telling people, I am taking control back. I’m not a victim
anymore, I’m a survivor,” she said.

LSA sophomore Lynn Fetch said she became a SAPAC volunteer
because of personal experiences. She said it is especially
important for forums like this to take place on the college
campus.

“Everyone has varying experiences, but it is a big step to
actually recognize that something did happen,” she said.

The program also featured a clothesline display, with shirts
decorated by assault survivors and their families to reflect their
experiences.

SAPAC sponsors a variety of services throughout the year for
victims of stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault and
relationship violence. Its volunteers also offer workshops and
training. Their 24-hour crisis line is (734) 936-3333.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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