Sexual Assault Survivors Share Their Stories At “Me Too On Campus” Event

Bridgette Jasinski, of Students Against Sexual Assault, shared an anonymous story in front of a crowd of about thirty people at the Women's Resources Center at the University of Illinois Tuesday night.

Bridgette Jasinski, of Students Against Sexual Assault, shared a story from an anonymous sexual assault survivor in front of a crowd of about thirty people at the Women's Resources Center Tuesday night.

Angela Kerndl/Illinois Public Media

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the University of Illinois’ Women’s Resources Center hosted an event Tuesday night, where sexual assault survivors got the chance to share their stories. "#MeToo On Campus" was the new name for event held last year under the name "It Happens Here".

About a dozen experiences of sexual assault, rape, and dating and domestic violence were shared at the event. Survivors were able to read their own stories at the event, or send them in with or without their names, and have them read aloud. 

The Students Against Sexual Assault group held the event on campus as a way to empower those who have gone through trauma. It also served as a learning experience for supporters.

Students Against Sexual Assault member Sudarshana Rao helped coordinate the event. She said sexual assault on college campuses is a serious problem.

“A lot of people want to be allies and want to know how to help, but they don’t really know about the experiences of survivors," Rao said. "I think this gives people a first-hand chance to learn about what people go through.  And for the survivors, I think this is a really important thing to have their stories heard in a non judgemental space without having to take ownership of that story, and be exposed to the repercussions that might come with that.”

Victim-blaming is one of the repercussions Rao referred to.

About thirty people, mostly women, came out to the event to support survivors.

“Historically I’ve seen with this kind of group, we don’t have men show up for this cause," said Rao. "And I know that a lot of men are survivors, and I believe that we need to support them as a community as well, but when we don’t have men show up to this kind of thing it really says something about their toxic masculinity in our culture."

Rao said she would have loved to have seen more men come out to the event. She said Students Against Sexual Assault did try to reach out and publicize the event as widely as possible, but, said of the attendance, “that’s just the nature of these kinds of events.”

Students Against Sexual Assault will co-sponsor a Rally Against Rape Culture at the University of Illinois’ Main Quad Saturday, April 13, starting at 1pm. The group says the rally wil address relevant issues from proposed changes to Title IX (the federal law banning discrimination in education on the basis of sex) to the budding nature of the #MeToo Movement, as more survivors are speaking out.

Story source: WILL