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Activist Katie Koestner speaks up for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Katie Koestner, one of the first victims of date rape to speak out nationally about the problem, shares her story.

George Dunlap

Katie Koestner, one of the first victims of date rape to speak out nationally about the problem, shares her story.

By George Dunlap, Writer

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Katie Koestner, one of the first victims of date rape to speak out nationally, visited Akron to discuss her tragic experiences on April 5. Koestner’s discussion, titled Take Back the Night, was the second event in a series for the Sexual Assault Awareness Month of April.

In 1991, Koestner appeared on the cover of Times Magazine and two years later, HBO produced a movie about her story. Koestner’s ordeal helped in the fight against sexual assault and, in 1992, had enough support to attract national attention.

During this year, Congress and President George H.W. Bush passed a law known as the Campus Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights.

Koestner started off the night with a comedic backstory about her life in high school and her first boyfriends, but later turned those stories into heartbreak. Koestner spoke of her encounters with a friend who pushed for more than what she was comfortable with. Silent, the audience anticipated what was going to come next.

Multiple times Koestner said she was glad that she finally spoke up against her date rapist and that she was glad that the audience was interested in her story.

“I am thankful for you all being here to listen to me for 38 minutes,” said Koestner. “I want you all to know that I want you to walk away from this feeling something. This isn’t just a discussion that you can walk away from and think ‘yeah I know that rape is bad, why did I even come here?’”

After Koestner’s speech, attendees were invited to join in the march around campus for the safety of women to “take back the night.”

Date rape occurs most frequently on college campuses. It typically involves date rape drugs, which are used to incapacitate victims.

Approximately one in four college women are date raped or experience an attempted date rape during their time in college. Eighty-four percent of women who have been raped know their rapist. Forty-two percent of women who are date raped do not tell anyone about their rape at all.

Victims of rape and sexual assault are more likely to attempt or consider suicide. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 are four times more likely to be date raped than any other age group.

On Monday, April 18, there will be another event called Let’s Talk! Men’s Action Night, where men are encouraged to stand up against sexual assault on college campuses.

On Friday, April 29, the final event for Sexual Assault Awareness month will be held at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. This will be the 11th annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

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