Today was an incredibly busy day full of important speakers and guests. We started our day off speaking with a survivor who was brave enough to share her story with us. She talked to us about her experience filing a Title IX lawsuit against her university and the aftermath of the assault. She stressed the importance of consistency and how much it would’ve helped to have someone walk her through the steps of what to do after an assault. She spoke about the need for sex and consent education and even though we don’t want to make people scared when we talk about sexual assault, we don’t want to undereducate. What really stood out to me from this conversation was the idea of taking back control. After an assault, survivors often feel the need to control everything from where they go, to their bodies, to just giving permission to others to take control.
After, we met with Kiersten Stewart from Futures Without Violence an organization focused on ending domestic and sexual violence. Their goal is to end all violence against women, men, children, and families both nationally and globally through education, policy, and advocacy. What I really took from this conversation were the steps in achieving their goal: give educational tools, change attitudes and behaviors that condone violence, hold policymakers accountable, and work on engaging men– men and boys can make a difference when they’re invited into the conversation as a potential ally and not as a perpetrator. We also got to hear from one of her colleagues, Brian O’Connor, who works for That’s Not Cool, a program that aims to promote safe relationships on social media.
Lastly, we met with SafeBAE (Before Anyone Else) an organization created by four survivors of sexual assault who came together to prevent sexual assault from happening to others. We met with two of them, Daisy Coleman and Delaney Henderson, who were featured in the new film Audrie & Daisy. They shared their incredibly powerful and emotional stories as well as all the great work they’ve been doing with SafeBAE. Through SafeBAE, they’ve connected with other survivors as well as created educational toolkits about consent and sex education that are both informative and admirable. They stressed the importance of being a good friend to a survivor and the importance of not falling into victim blaming. Reassuring them that the assault was not their fault and being there for them in any way possible ensures the survivor a smoother healing journey. As Daisy put it, “The silence of our friends hurts more than the words of our enemies”.