Friday, January 24, 2020
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Elite school sexual assault survivor launches site

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand,” said Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

Chessy Prout, who says she was sexually assaulted as a 15-year-old at an elite school in New Hampshire, is now with the nonprofit Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment and working “both to shatter the silence and prevent sexual violence through social advocacy, education and survivror support,” NBC News reports.

The group launched a new site today, which is at I Have the Right To.org, following an exclusive interview Ms Prout gave with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show.

“There was just no recognition [at the school] that I had gone through something like this,” she said in the interview. “That is one of the reasons why we’re pushing for change.”

A graduating senior at St Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, Owen Labrie, was charged with sexually assaulting her. He was acquitted on three counts of felony sexual assault in August 2015 but convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault, felony illegal use of computer services, and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. The verdict’s being appealed.

Ms Prout has decided to go public with her identity, which rarely happens in sexual assault cases, especially when the victim is a minor, in order to speak out about the crime.

#IHaveTheRightTo is a social media campaign that “engages participants to be a positive force for change bringing safety and respect to pop culture.” Ms Prout wrote:

#IHaveTheRightTo find my voice and to use it when I am ready. #IHaveTheRightTo be called a survivor, not an “alleged victim” or “accuser.” #IHaveTheRightTo spend time with someone and be safe. #IHaveTheRightTo say NO and be HEARD. #IHaveTheRight to not be shamed and bullied into silence. #IHaveTheRightTo not be isolated by the crime against me or by people who want to shame me. #IHaveTheRightTo name what happened to me because being sexually assaulted is never excusable or “complicated.” There is no perfect victim. #IHaveTheRightTo be happy, sad, upset, angry, and inspired anytime during the process of my healing without being judged. But most importantly, #IHaveTheRightTo stand with you.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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