Speaking Out

One of the greatest honors we receive is a student sharing their story with us. We were recently contacted by a survivor who beautifully expressed why it was important to tell her story with candor and in our opinion courage. We are happy to introduce you to one student who is making a difference…

 By Cassy Byrne

 Since publishing my story about surviving years of sexual abuse in college to my blog last month, I have been asked again and again why I decided to do it.

 I realize that it may seem counterintuitive to publish a compilation of the most humiliating moments of one’s life to the Internet for everyone to read — especially when doing so runs the risk of making the majority of people who read it feel unbearably uncomfortable (at best). But the level of detail that I brought to light in my account is so rarely exposed in cases of sexual assault, that I knew that if there was any way I could I feel capable of telling my story — in public, and in depth — then I would have to make it my responsibility to do so.

I say “responsibility” because I have grown increasingly aware of how inaccessible information about sexual violence is to the general public. And it became clear to me months ago that, as long as our society at large is left in the dark about these issues, what happened to me will continue to happen to anyone, and those who suffer from it will continue to suffer all alone and in silence.

 That’s when I realized that I not only had a voice, but I had access to a platform as well. In this day and age, anyone with an Internet connection can author their own blog, and anyone who’s plugged in to a social network or search engine can stumble upon it. This is how we communicate now. This is how we relate to one another. This is how we learn.

So my purpose in publishing my story was mainly to inform. There are people all over this country who think that rape is simply not relevant to their lives, or that only mentally deranged strangers lurking in the bushes commit rape, or that if a person is trapped in an abusive relationship then it must be because they are “weak,” and that nothing like that could ever happen to them or to anyone they care about. But I know differently. And I think that you’ll find that my story offers something for everyone, no matter how close or how distant they feel in relation to the events that I’ve described.

I just want to live in a world where I — and others like me — don’t feel isolated, or silenced, or shamed for having been raped. I want to live in a world where people who are unable to empathize with survivors of sexual assault can at least learn to sympathize with them and show their support. That is a world we all deserve to live in. And that is why I shared my story with this world.

 Read Cassy’s story on her blog.

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