Survivor Stories

Hannah’s Story

Hannah Rad was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance on her college campus during her first year. She didn’t want to tell anyone about what happened because she felt ashamed. “Being gay does not justify terrible things happening to you. Owning who you are and everything that makes you YOU is the first step in healing. You don’t need to be ashamed of what happened to you.”

Johnathon’s Story

Johnathon Cassidy was sexually assaulted by a stranger he met while at a local bar who put a date-rape drug in his drink. "Everyone always said ‘Go with Johnny, you’ll be safe with him.’ I’ve been told my entire life that it was impossible for this kind of thing to happen to me.”

Tasha's Story

Tasha Wilson was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance on her college campus. She did not feel comfortable reporting the assault to campus administration because she had heard about other students’ negative experiences in doing so. “It didn’t feel like a welcoming or safe environment to disclose. I didn’t know if there were even resources available.”

Tarhata's Story

Tarhata Brazsal experienced rape and intimate partner violence from her high school boyfriend. After the relationship ended, Tarhata told her sister and cousin about what had happened. “Everyone was trying to make me do what they thought would help me. People were trying to force me to act in a certain way, but my sister didn’t. Because of that, she truly gave me my voice back.”

Sarah's Story

Sarah Whitney was raped when she was 16. She told her then-boyfriend, who reacted in an extremely unsupportive and hurtful way—blaming her for the incident and breaking up with her on the spot. The reaction of the first person a survivor tells is pivotal and can have a huge effect on their healing. “I would like people to know that this is no one’s fault but the person who did it.”

Marissa’s Story

Marissa Hoechstetter was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the OB-GYN she saw during her pregnancy, the delivery of her twin daughters, and follow-up appointments. Marissa says it was hard for her to speak about the abuse at the beginning, but eventually she realized that sharing her story would allow her both to help others and to begin her own healing. “When I speak authentically and truthfully about my experience, I have power. I am not going away.” 

Christa's Story

Christa Hayburn was sexually assaulted by a superior at the Police Department where she served as a law enforcement officer. “I’m so glad I can be there for survivors. I will continue to advocate for change until true change takes place across the country. People in these institutions have to take sexual assault seriously and be more supportive of those who come forward.”

Ethan's Story

Ethan Levine was sexually assaulted in high school by a friend of someone he was casually dating. “In the immediate aftermath of the first assault, my focus was on whether it was real and whether I was right about what had happened. I got hung up on the fact that what happened to me didn’t fit the definition of rape I had grown up hearing.”

Tara's Story

Tara is a survivor of multiple sexual assaults and intimate partner sexual violence. “I’m a very open person with everything else, I’m very outgoing and I talk a lot. But when it came to these things, it took me years to say anything to anyone. The first time I talked about them was years later with my husband and after that with my therapist.”

Carolyn's Story

Carolyn experienced child sexual abuse by an older cousin and another sexual assault later in her life. "It’s so healing to talk about it. The more you talk about it, the more you’re letting go, bit by bit. I can feel it exit my body every time I tell my story."

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