Emily Starling

Social media continues to be a tool for survivors to bravely share their sexual assault stories. 

On Feb. 1, Democratic Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took to Instagram Live to disclose that she was a sexual assault survivor. 

“I am a survivor of sexual assault” said Ocasio-Cortez .“…and I haven’t told many people that in my life.”

 She bravely shared her story to an audience of 150,000 while recounting  her traumatic experience at the pro-Trump riot that took place at the capitol last month. 

However, influential women coming forward about their experiences with sexual assault is not new.

In 2017, the “#MeToo” movement took social media by storm and sparked a national discussion on the topic of sexual assault. 

This movement inspired women across the globe to share their own experiences with sexual misconduct. 

A-list celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow and more have all come forward with their stories on social media, similarly to how Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez did. 

Although the #MeToo movement hit its peak in 2017, survivors are continuing to utilize social media as a space to have an open discussion about the topic of sexual assault. 

It continues to be so important for prominent figures like Ocasio-Cortez to come forward about their stories because survivors tend to minimize their experiences, like myself.

On Jan. 29, I used my own social media account as a platform to come out about my personal experience with sexual assault.

After teaming up with a women’s advocacy organization called “Nice For What,”  a group that empowers and shares the stories of survivors , I have been able to share my story with nearly 40,000 people. 

Now, four years after my assault, I’m learning how to heal from my trauma while also learning how to navigate safely through my time on a college campus.

College aged-students make up 54 percent of all sexual assault cases, with college women being three times more likely to become victims. 

“Since 2017, the Office of Accountability, Education, and Compliance has increased ongoing prevention education for the campus community,” Assistant Dean of Student Development for Accountability, Education, and Compliance Amanda Blount said.

According to Florida Southern’s Annual Security Report, there have been 10 reported cases of sexual assault on campus since 2017. 

“What we know is that when an individual has been through a traumatic experience, what works for one person for the healing and resolution process, may not work for another student,” Blount said.

These supportive measures may include changes in campus housing, no contact directives, and “connections to local law enforcement and Victims’ Assistance departments,” Blount said.

Providing support for those who have been sexually assaulted is something that is  important and certainly something that has helped me along my journey of overcoming the trauma of my assault has caused. 

Students can visit Florida Southern’s “JustAsk” site to report incidences of “…sexual discrimination or harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault the National Sexual Assault Hotline is available for free at 1-800-656-4673.

You are not alone and confidential help is available.

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