Sexual assault is not only something that has impacted college campuses. It has had a huge impact in high schools and across communities. Sexual assault is also something that has affected me in a huge way. I was molested at a young age starting at 12 years old and it lasted until I was 17. I did not speak about my sexual assault until my sophomore year at Spelman College. At first I thought I would be completely fine speaking but once I started telling my story, my emotions took over. After openly sharing my story, I decided to take action by taking care of myself and seeking counseling, as well as by dedicating time to work with other survivors, both men and women.
The It’s On Us campaign gave me a voice, one that I thought I would never have, and for that, I will always be grateful. I started working on the campaign by hosting events and pledge drives on my college campus. It was amazing working directly with students, particularly survivors from Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University. I knew that I wanted to continue this work and make more of an impact beyond my campus, so I applied to be a member of the It’s On Us Student Advisory Committee. Through my work on the Student Advisory Committee, I got to meet other amazing campus leaders, and even helped coordinate an event with Vice President Joe Biden at Morehouse College!
Being a part of the event was a great experience. Hearing Vice President Joe Biden speak to students about taking a stand to fight against sexual assault on college campuses in front of so many students was incredible. It was a call to action of a magnitude we have never seen before. Since the event, the entire campus has shifted its focus to be more intentional about creating an environment that supports survivors. This is the first time in a while that sexual assault has been recognized at this high of a level and it’s incredible to see how many students are now taking action to be a part of the solution.
I’m so grateful for the work I’ve been able to do with It’s On Us, particularly being able to help survivors in their personal journeys. I know how it feels to go through something like this alone, and I am happy to be there for them whenever they need me. Every story I hear is an important reminder of why I got involved with It’s On Us. The fight isn’t over — it’s just beginning. I went from a victim, to a survivor, and am now proud to be an advocate.
This post was written by Venkayla Haynes, Student Advisory Committee member and a student at Spelman College, at It’s On Us, where it was originally published. It’s On Us seeks to reframe the conversation surrounding sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.