One K-State student wrote of the sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her father. Another remembered the betrayal of a trusted friend, a sorority sister who turned a blind eye and a cold shoulder to her as she fell victim to date rape. Still another recalled the all-too-real details of a boyfriend coercing her into an involuntary sexual relationship.
These stories, and others equally as grim, echoed across the Bosco Plaza on Monday as students from the School of Leadership Studies and representatives of the K-State Women’s Center presented Purple Cried, a one-hour reading of narratives written by K-State students who have suffered sexual assault or rape.
Ashley Eller, freshman in biology and one of the organizers for the event, hoped the readings would raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault.
“All of us wanted to work with the Women’s Center because we feel strongly about promoting how common this crime is,” Eller said. “It’s often swept under the rug, but it actually happens.”
Eller and a group of students from the School of Leadership Studies read true stories of sexual assault, with hopes that first-person accounts of rape would be more persuasive than fact sheets and fliers.
“We put up some fliers, but this was a better way to get the emotion across,” Eller said. “Stories written by women of K-State, read by women of K-State — it’s more powerful.”
Taylor McKinley, freshman in open option and another event organizer, hoped the stories would prevent women from falling into similar situations.
“We felt that this was important to look out for, especially this weekend with Homecoming, a big party weekend,” McKinley said. “I hope people are more aware that it does happen here.”
According to a survey by the National Institute of Justice, one out of every six American women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, and college-aged women are four-times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group.
Mary Todd, director of the K-State Women’s Center, has seen the effects of sexual assault firsthand, and hopes that Purple Cried and similar events will help people better understand the far-reaching consequences of rape.
“Last year, I worked with three K-Staters who were pregnant from rape,” Todd said. “This crime has a ripple effect. It touches husbands, brothers and fathers who feel they should have protected the victim. There are health ripple effects, people taking medicines to keep diseases from latching on. All the things the woman goes through, the mom and dad go through, the brothers and sisters go through — it’s an incredibly invasive crime.”