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Survivor Speak Out allows students to speak their truth

1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience partner physical violence, sexual violence or stalking, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. These instances often result in injury, fearfulness or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Outlets for survivors to speak freely about their experiences are invaluable. For example, the Survivor Speak Out, an event co-hosted by the Ohio University Survivor Advocacy Program (SAP), the Office of Health Promotion and Donkey Coffee.

The Survivor Speak Out event took place Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Donkey Coffee. It allowed survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence and stalking to come forward and share their stories in a safe space. 

In an open-mic format, survivors and supporters took the stage to speak their truth, read a written statement or perform poetry or music.

The event was exempted from mandated reporting, meaning survivors could disclose instances of interpersonal violence without triggering a reporting process through the university or law enforcement. 

Support personnel from SAP and the Office of Health Promotion were on standby to offer services to students struggling with the event or an instance of interpersonal violence.

Angie Pyle, co-owner of Donkey Coffee, said this is not the first time Donkey hosted the Survivor Speak Out event. Pyle explained that the event is always well-attended, resulting in a packed venue. 

For Pyle, hosting the Survivor Speak Out means fostering the healing process.

"We do it because we believe in the necessity of people being able to speak about their experiences as part of the healing process and Donkey is a safe space," Pyle said. "It's a perfect location to host something like this."

Donkey will donate a portion of proceeds, approximately $200, to SAP's Survivor Emergency Fund. This fund directly supports survivors at Ohio and aims to reduce the long-term effects of interpersonal violence. 

Lexi Jones, a graduate student studying social work, is a student survivor advocate with SAP. Jones dedicates time to survivor support programming by offering therapy sessions, medical and legal advocacy, support groups and working with the 24-hour crisis hotline.  

Jones helped to organize the Survivor Speak Out event with the hope of extending her services and providing a safe space. Jones explained disclosure of any kind is a difficult process for survivors. 

"The goals are just to spread the message that we support and believe survivors at Ohio University," Jones said. 

Jones said that exempting the event from mandated reporting may have encouraged survivors to step forward and share their stories without fear. 

"This gives (survivors) a space to share their story and kind of gives them a platform to do so in a welcoming and supportive environment," Jones said. 

Survivor Speak Out was organized to provide support and community connection to survivors and provide a space for survivors to tell their stories and speak their truth without judgment. 

"This event in particular is really important for survivors to have a chance to voice their stories," she said. "There's a lot of power in owning your story and taking your story back."


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