Sexual assault survivors and allies remind campus community ‘it happens here’

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Students read anonymously submitted students of sexual assault at an event at the Ikenberry SDRP on Tuesday. Clarification: A previous version of this caption stated students recall their experiences of sexual assault. The caption should have stated students were reading anonymously submitted stories. The Daily Illini regrets this error.  

By Brittany Zeeb

Standing up to a packed room, students shed light on sexual assaults by reading aloud anonymously submitted stories.

The event, It Happens Here UIUC, was held by several campus organizations on Thursday for April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Let’s talk about what we don’t want to talk about,” was the slogan of the event, which encouraged survivors of sexual assault to share their experiences.

Students told stories of being assaulted by strangers, family members, significant others and those in authority positions. One woman told the story of a sexual assault that took place in her own apartment, from someone she trusted.

“He texted me the next day pretending to be blacked out from the night before,” the woman said.

Other survivors told similar stories that left them to sort out feelings of guilt, blame and anger, alone.

Another speaker told the story of a 14-year-old boy who was sexually exploited by a trusted coach and teacher. He, among other survivors, struggled with telling his story to those he loved and the authorities. Each story questioned why consent is not always seen as a universal right.

Molly McLay, the assistant director of the Women’s Resource Center, offered up services for victims of dealing with the repercussions of sexual assault. The center offers confidential counseling services as well as help navigating the medical and criminal justice systems.

The event ended with the message that supporting survivors is the place to start.

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