"Me too. It happened to me too."
More than one in five women and 5 percent of men are sexually assaulted while at college. Some survivors are coming forward; others are not. In We Believe You, students from every kind of college and university—large and small, public and private, highly selective and less so—share experiences of trauma, healing, and everyday activism, representing a diversity of races, economic and family backgrounds, gender identities, immigration statuses, interests, capacities, and loves. Theirs is a bold, irrefutable sampling of voices and stories that should speak to all.
A portion of the proceeds benefit EROC to sustain direct support services for survivors.
We are so grateful to the 34 survivors who have brought this book to life. Their powerful narratives counter common misconceptions regarding campus sexual assault and inspire us to demand inclusion as we move forward in addressing this issue.
Chloe Allred is a painter, writer, activist and co-founder of the Body Joy Project, a feminist artist collective. She creates work that critiques and challenges the way our culture thinks about the body. She graduated summa cum laude from Cornish College of the Arts in 2013 and is a Mcmillen Foundation Scholar. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in fine art from Laguna College of Art and Design, in Southern Californa.
Andrew Brown is an advocate and activist against sexual violence from Silver Spring, Maryland. Andrew’s story as a queer, male survivor of sexual assault and his university’s subsequent negligence has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, The Hunting Ground, and now We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out. In March 2016 he joined Lady Gaga on the 88th Academy Awards stage for her moving performance of “Til It Happens to You” alongside 50 survivors, including many other contributors to We Believe You. In addition to advocacy and activism, Andrew is also a professional classical singer, having soloed at the Washington National Cathedral and the Kennedy Center.
Julia D. is dual Masters degree candidate in Public Administration and Social Work at a southern university. She started doing activist work in 2010 as an undergraduate at the same university. As an activist, Julia has developed healthy relationship programs, organized survivor advocacy projects, and planned rape crisis fundraisers for her university and larger communities. Truly, she wants to connect direct service and program professionals with their administrative counterparts to create more efficient and effective large-scale change. Her self-care habits include watching dog and baby videos on the internet, getting too invested in tv dramas (while overeating Hot Cheetos with extra hot sauce), and snuggling with clothes fresh out of the dryer.
Fabiana Diaz is a student at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and will be graduating in April 2016 majoring in International Studies. She has been featured on HBO VICE: "Campus Cover-Up" and was also one of the survivors on stage with Lady Gaga at the Oscar's. She has been recognized as Student Of The Year 2016 by her school's newspaper for her work on campus and continued advocacy for survivors. She plans to continue her activism and fight against sexual assault after graduation.
Sari Rachel Forshner
Sari Rachel Forshner is a poet and feminist activist who attended the University of Southern California, from which she took an indefinite leave following her rape. During her tenure as a student there, she and her peers filed a federal civil rights complaint against the school for its consistent mishandling of sexual violence. Sari also studied clowning with an Obie-award-winning theatre company in Philadelphia and once played the male romantic lead in a show off-off Broadway. We Believe You is her debut publication of both prose and poetry, although she has performed her work both at home and abroad.
Dr. Katie Rose Guest Pryal
Dr. Katie Rose Guest Pryal is a novelist, freelance journalist, and lawyer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of the Entanglement Series, which includes Entanglement, Love And Entropy, and the forthcoming Chasing Chaos, all from Velvet Morning Press. You can grab free copies of Katie's novella, Nice Wheels, and her writing guide, Writing Isn't Sexy, by subscribing to her monthly email letter. Katie is a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, a community of writing professionals committed to connecting authors with each other and with readers. Follow Katie on Twitter @krgpryal and on Instagram at @novelist_katie.
Nastassja Schmiedt and A. Lea Roth
Nastassja Schmiedt and A. Lea Roth are a creative duo and engaged couple. Nastassja and Lea co-founded Spring Up, a multimedia activism and art collective creating a space for learning and healing. They have traveled around the United States and Europe, giving workshops about campus violence and intersectional coalitional organizing at conferences and campuses. Together, Nastassja and Lea co-authored Millennial Sex Education, a collection of short stories exploring themes of desire, consent, and millennial sexuality.
When we experienced sexual assault as teenagers, we didn't see any representations of people like us or experiences like ours in the media, which made it harder to understand what had happened to us and find support. Our story draws attention to how sexual assault relates to other issues of discrimination and hate crimes, and how your identity can affect your support system. Our story also highlights how speaking out against violence on campus often comes at a cost. We hope our experiences help other queer and nonbinary survivors know that they're not alone.
Brenda Tracy is an advocate, nurse, mother and survivor. She was brutally raped by four football players in 1998. Sixteen years later, Ms. Tracy found the courage to come forward, and now seeks to make the world a better place for survivors.
Ms. Tracy has worked closely with Oregon legislators to expand victims’ rights laws - including doubling the statue of limitations and championing "Melissa's Law."
Ms. Tracy has won a number of awards, including the 2016 US Attorney General National Service Courage Award for her advocacy and is engaged in numerous awareness-raising outreach efforts. She is now a consultant for Oregon State University – the very place where her rape occurred 17 years ago.
Kamilah Willingham is an outspoken advocate and activist dedicated to gender equality and civil rights. She most recently worked as a Program and Outreach Director at the California Women’s Law Center in Los Angeles. She previously worked for Just Detention International (JDI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending sexual abuse in prisons and jails. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and received her undergraduate degree from Pomona College. Kamilah was featured in the 2015 campus sexual assault documentary "The Hunting Ground," in which she told her story of surviving sexual assault while studying at Harvard Law School.
Aysha is a Therapist, Activist, and Freelance Writer. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and then went on to earn her Master’s degree in clinical psychology from Virginia State University. Aysha spends her time providing mental health services for incarcerated youth, writing for print magazines and online media, engaging in everyday activism, loving on and being loved by her significant other and being mom to her amazing preteen son. Aysha has contributed to various publications to include EBONY, Cosmopolitan, We Believe You: Survivors of Sexual Assault Speak Out, PsychCentral, and the Huffington Post. She is passionate about mental health, social justice, and education reform, particularly within the marginalized sectors of society. Aysha would love to connect with you on Twitter AyshaIves
Although many survivors are now coming forward, many have not and never will for many reasons. For many it is fear of safety, for others it's fear of being ostracized by their communities or their school, and for many queer, trans and survivors of color, it's lack of spaces for their stories. Not every survivor needs to or should have to come forward, but we acknowledge that this book is stronger because of the courage of our anonymous contributors. We Believe You, and you are not alone.
More bios coming soon!