Cassy Byrne founded Northwestern University’s Secular Student Alliance a few years ago and I’ve had the chance to work with her on a few different events. She’s an awesome person to work with and a terrific activist.
So it was definitely a jarring experience for me to read a series of posts she put up on her website today. She talks about being sexually assaulted, why she was silent about it for a long time, what it did to her emotionally and physically, and how she managed to make it out as a survivor. It’s eye-opening, depressing, honest, and powerful. The only thing I’m posting here are her goals in sharing her story:
1) To give a detailed first-hand account of how sexual assault, in its variety of forms, can — and does — occur in the real world.
2) To give fellow survivors a name for what happened to them (understand that we, as a society, are typically not given a comprehensive — nor accurate — definition of what sexual assault actually is, and for this reason, many survivors end up suffering in silence for months or even years without knowing why, which means that they are unable to find support when they need it most, i.e., THIS).
3) To give those who are unfamiliar with sexual violence an inside look into (a) all of the complex issues that are interwoven between sexuality, violence, relationships, and abuse, and (b) the various ways in which the psychology of a victim can respond to said abuse.
4) To dispel widespread myths and misconceptions about all of the above, and in doing so, generate a safer, more understanding, and more informed environment for sexual assault survivors and friends to cohabit.
Please read the whole thing.
I’m glad she didn’t edit this to make it shorter. It’s a long series because there’s a lot to talk about. I hope it encourages other women (and men) to speak up if they ever end up in this horrible situation.