When I was sexually assaulted as a teenager, I didn’t have the words for what had happened. I didn’t know what to do, who to call, or even how to describe it. It wasn’t until I went to college orientation and heard the Title IX instructor speak that I put together what happened to me. Unfortunately, at that point it was too late to legally mitigate the effects of the assault, and it became difficult to undo the trauma I had experienced. My community, my public education, and my support system had failed me. I do not blame these systems for what happened, but I realized that each could have done more to help prevent and mitigate the effects of my sexual assault, if only I, and they, had the knowledge.
I have found that knowledge is power. In law school I have been working on a paper which shows the correlation between sexual assault rates and the quality of the education individuals receive regarding sexual assault. Where there are better education laws, sexual assault is considerably less prevalent. This means that sexual assault is preventable. Unfortunately, partially because many do not possess this knowledge, sexual abuse has become a nationwide, even worldwide epidemic.
I started We Will after realizing there was more we could do in order to prevent sexual assault and mitigate the harmful effects of it. We Will specifically works with state legislatures to better sexual education laws to teach consent, refusal skills, and what to do if one is sexually assaulted or if a friend is assaulted. Additionally, We Will acts to grow communities through and increase awareness of sexual assault and methods to prevent it. This aspect focuses on increasing a sense of responsibility among community members to protect one another as well as support survivors. Finally, We Will focuses on mitigation of the traumatic effects of sexual assault through supporting survivors. This is accomplished through publication of survivor stories (with their permission), referring survivors to resources such as counseling and legal aid, and generally offering a place in which survivors feel comfortable relating their experiences.
We know that we will one day eradicate the sexual assault and create local, national, and global communities that are supportive of survivors.