Silent no more: Students use trauma experiences to fuel change at No More rally

Polly Nations, sophomore in social work, leads attendees at the No More rally to raise awareness regarding sexual assault and domestic violence. The rally was held in Bosco Plaza on Friday afternoon. (Tiffany Roney | Collegian Media Group)

It took courage for her to speak to even one person about the sexual assault she experienced, so to speak from a microphone at a podium was a true victory, said Paige Eichkorn, sexual assault survivor and sophomore in fishery, wildlife and conservation biology.

Eichkorn was one of several students and alumni who shared their experiences with sexual assault at the No More rally in Bosco Plaza on Friday.

Polly Nations, sophomore in social work, said several factors motivated her to organize the rally. This included the seven other girls who were sexually assaulted by the man who raped her, hearing about Kansas State’s Title IX cases and recently winning the court case regarding her sexual assault.

Nations contacted No More, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of sexual violence, to partner with the nationwide campaign. No More’s goal is to end sexual assault and domestic violence through public action.

Nations said she is willing to take any opportunity in sharing her story and leading others in sharing theirs. However, she wasn’t always so vocal about what she suffered. She said it took her six months to tell the first person — her mom.

“She was definitely quite shocked, but she was really supportive,” Nations said. “She wanted me to tell my story and do what I could to make sure this didn’t happen to someone else.”

Over three years after the rape, Nations said she continues to suffer from severe anxiety and night terrors, and she is now much more cautious about who she trusts. In the midst of this turmoil, she changed her major from kinesiology to social work so she can be better positioned to help others facing similar traumas.

“I think there are many reasons why this happened because it called me to do other things,” Nations said. “You’ve got to make lemonade with the lemons you’re given in life.”

In addition to offering a chance for survivors to share their stories, the rally introduced attendees to several allied organizations at K-State, including the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, or CARE; the Counseling Services; Alpha Kappa Lambda, a fraternity that has teamed up with These Hands Don’t Hurt; and Peer Advocates for Mental Wellness and Success, or PAWS.

“If even one person was reached today on any level — even if it’s that now they know about a resource they can offer to someone who’s hurting — then this rally was worth it,” Nations said.