After watching the #MeToo trend surface, we, as a staff, were motivated to further shed light on the sexual assault epidemic. We offered to give those sexually victimized an opportunity to write to KentWired about their experiences, and multiple stepped forward. 

These firsthand recollections are meant to make you uncomfortable — they're not meant to be read easily. Creating this package was vital for not only giving those who have been victimized the chance to see that they aren't alone, but to introduce the severity of the issue to those detached from it.
 
Pushing statistics would demonstrate the breadth of sexual assault, but reading real encounters adds a critical human element to the topic.
 
The first three stories are from Madeline Zupko, Erin Zaranec and MJ Eckhouse. Each was willing to tie their stories to their names and faces, and the pictures paired with their stories are from around the time in which they were assaulted. Madeline, as seen, was 6; the innocently faint pink and white of her clothing, a normal outfit for a young girl, is a cruel juxtaposition to the reality she was facing. Erin, whose story was featured on KentWired a year ago, was raped at age 16. MJ explains the troubles faced as a transgender man. Pairing a face to the story emphasizes that anyone among us may have a troubled past with sexual assault. 
 
The writers of the rest of the stories asked that their accounts be left anonymous. That doesn't diminish the importance of their stories; it's imperative to contemplate why victims of a sexual crime would prefer to not openly discuss their experiences. Some didn't want their families to find their stories. Others opted to stay anonymous to avoid legal ramifications. Whatever the reasons for writing anonymously, the efficacy and significance of these victims' individual stories remains.
 
If you have a story you'd like to share with this project, help KentWired build this community that sends one resounding message: You are not alone.
 
Lucas Misera is the opinion editor. Contact him at lmisera@kent.edu.

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