UT sexual assault prevention group Not On My Campus is launching #ReclaimYourStory, a social media campaign that allows students to share their experiences with sexual violence on campus.
Students can submit a 2,100-character story about why they care about ending sexual assault on campus, which can include personal experiences, stories of helping friends and family or things they have noticed on campus. Submitters can remain anonymous if they wish, and a selection of the stories will be posted on Not On My Campus’ Facebook and Instagram pages. The deadline to submit is Aug. 15.
Rhea Shahane, director of administration for Not On My Campus and a leader of the campaign, said all stories are valid, even if some stories may not fit into the cookie-cutter version of what others might think abuse looks like.
“There’s a whole spectrum of abuse and violence that doesn’t get talked about a lot,” said Shahane, a Plan II, government and history senior.
The campaign’s primary goal is to give victims a voice, said Tatum Zeko, president of Not On My Campus and English senior.
Shahane said the public tends to hear from perpetrators more often than victims, as seen in the sexual assault case involving former Stanford student Brock Turner, and that #ReclaimYourStory is meant to help victims tell their experience.
“We’re putting your story out there because we believe you, because we validate you,” Tatum said.
Since the University released the results of a sexual assault survey in March 2017, Not On My Campus has been able to use those statistics in their work, Zeko said. The survey revealed that 15 percent of undergraduate women and 5 percent of undergraduate men reported having been raped. Zeko said she hopes the posts under #ReclaimYourStory help put stories behind those statistics.
“That validation point is just saying that this is a thing on campus,” Zeko said. “It’s not a myth, it’s not fake — those numbers are real. We need to acknowledge it and move forward.”
Sophia Le, social media director for Not On My Campus and campaign leader, said these stories can help those who have experienced sexual violence, but may not have shared their personal story.
“There are other survivors who might just be reading the campaign’s submissions,” English junior Le said. “They can read these stories and know that they’re not alone.”
Shahane said she hopes that a variety of stories will better inform students that there isn’t one type of sexual violence.
“I hope that it gives students more knowledge (about different forms of abuse and violence) … and about how sexual violence on campus can affect people in different ways,” Shahane said.
For those submitting, Zeko said she hopes sharing allows them to regain control of their story.
“The hope is that (submitters) get a little bit of power back,” Zeko said. “This is their narrative, this is their story and they get to take it back.”