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Why are stories so powerful?

There is power in sharing stories and personal anecdotes. When someone tells you about an experience of being a survivor of sexual abuse it has the potential to become real and hit you right to the core. It may inspire you to want to do something or trigger deeper emotions like anger, grief or empathy. Sometimes these emotions rush through your body and you feel a sense of passion. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. In all honesty it is a very difficult subject to talk about and stories enable further discussion, but they can show other survivors that they are not alone. I have been affected by such stories and they have given me impetus to want sexual violence to stop. This is why I started The Stop Campaign. It aims to stop sexual violence at universities with a focus on residential halls. I started this campaign because I care about students; I care about you.

My personal experience with sexual violence still rocks me and to this day I have difficulty speaking openly about it. Through other people's stories of healing I valued myself and sought help. I want to make seeking help as easy and accessible as possible for everyone. Sexual violence is never okay and no one ever deserves it. I didn’t deserve it and I know that now. The difference in my story and the people I am targeting now (university students) is that I was so much younger and naïve that I didn’t know any different. Once, twice, three times; I thought it was normal. It is not normal. We need to stop normalising sexual assault, and start normalising the discussion of it, what it is and that it is never okay under any circumstance. We are university students; we are meant to be independent, but sometimes we can’t do it alone. We need support.

When I hear about students being raped, drugged, assaulted, I get angry. When I hear about students taking their lives, I get furious. Has the university failed them? For so many years I struggled with my mental health following the trauma I experienced. In a sense, I was numb. I feel as though other students may be numb to sexual violence because it is all too common now. This needs to stop. I don’t want my peers to normalise the action of sexual assault; I want us to normalise the discussion of it. It is happening. It’s everywhere. So let’s start talking about it.

The reason the campaign is gathering stories from ANU students is so they share to our community to educate them on the truth; students are being sexually assaulted and they are seeking support, recovering, and moving on. You can too or you can assist others to regain their dignity. It’s never easy, but it’s possible. I am ready to tell my story. Are you?

Awareness; Information; Prevention; Resources; Support. This is what we are about, so join us in our journey to reveal truths and break stigmas surrounding sexual violence.

- Camille Schloeffel

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