Women share stories of past sexual assaults


On Wednesday night, a crowd gathered to hear the stories of sexual assault survivors and the recovery process that followed.

“Voices of Courage” featured the stories of five females and one male who had survived sexual assault, taken from the book of the same name. A reader’s theatre, comprised of seven Northern students, presented the stories to the audience.

One of the stories featured in “Voices of Courage” was that of Caroline Blair, current resident director of Gant hall, who was raped while she was a student at NMU. Her story was read as though it was a letter to her assaulter. Part of her account deals with the process of working through the feelings she had through counseling and writing. After coming forward, getting help and talking to friends about her story, Blair was able to begin to moving beyond the assault.

Sophomore athletic training major Megan Shipp read her story.

“I took a long walk not long ago,” read Shipp, “I thought about how far I’ve come. I feel more guarded and less carefree than I did before, however I also feel more aware. I place more value on friendship. I am more in-tune with myself. I am better able to recognize when others are hurting.the consequences of your actions, the pain you caused challenged me to find and understand myself.”

Another account, read by senior secondary education major Tony LaMalfa, told the story of “Ben,” a college student who was drugged and raped. Ben sought help after his rape, but a police official did not believe his story, simply because he was a man. After that, he became an advocate and educator, using his story to help make students become aware of and comprehend both male and female rape.

Freshman pre-medicine major Thao Do read the detailed account of the rape and recovery of “Juliette,” a young woman raped by an acquaintance during college. After she came forward, her university found her rapist guilty, but only placed him on social probation; he was still allowed to live on campus and participate in athletics. “Juliette” went on to share her story with others and become an advocate for sexual assault survivors.

“We can all be survivors,” Do read from “Juliette’s” story, “I believe that raising awareness, showing support and educating others will lead to fewer sexual assaults.”

Do said that originally she was not sure what to expect from the reader’s theatre at first, especially because the story was so emotional. But after reading the story to the crowd, she felt that she was really able to do something good.

“I was able to get the story out that no one is alone when it comes to sexual assault. I was really happy that I was able to help,” she said.

Adrienne Harrington, freshman pre-dental major, recounted the story of “Barb,” a woman who developed an eating disorder in response to her sexual assault. Harrington was inspired to participate in “Voices of Courage” because one of her close friends was raped and went through many of things that “Barb” did.

“Voices for Courage” has been held on Nothern’s campus for the past two years. This year the event coincided with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The reader’s all wore something teal, as teal is the official color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The event was organized by Women for Women, a group comprised of the five female houses in the residence halls on campus. Erin Bostelmann, resident advisor in Halverson Hall, directed the production.

After the reader’s theatre ended, members from various groups spoke to the audience about where and how survivors of sexual assault, or people who know survivors, can find help. Resources, information and help are available through the Health Promotions Office and NMU Counseling and Consultation Services on campus, or from the Women’s Center, located in Marquette.