Members from all sororities on campus, women’s self-defense students and other female students sat in Clowes Memorial Hall this past Monday for “Searching for Light: A Panel for Women.”
This panel met to talk about a taboo topic: rape.
The panel spoke to women about rape culture, recovery and cases in court.
The panelists included Laura Smith, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department sex crimes detective; Megan Brown , forensic nurse at The Center of Hope; and Brittany Broderick, a 22-year-old rape survivor.
The presentation began as Broderick told her chilling story.
She explained, choking back tears, about her experience with “a man who pretended to be a good Samaritan, but was a monster.”
On the night of the attack, Broderick was stranded at a Shell gas station at 38th street and Capitol near Butler’s campus due to a flat tire.
Broderick was approached by a man who asked for a ride in exchange for fixing her tire. He then began to beat and rape her in her car.
Despite her tears, Broderick delivered her story and encouraged other survivors to speak up.
After Broderick finished her presentation, Megan Brown, forensic nurse at the Center for Hope at St. Vincent Hospital, described what the Center for Hope does for women who have been sexually assaulted.
Brown encouraged victims to come seek medical attention immediately, even if they don’t plan on pressing charges.
“The longer you wait, the less evidence you have,” Brown said.
Brown said the center puts every decision in the victim’s hands.
“The victims had their power taken away from them,” Brown said. “We allow them to have that power back by making their own decisions about their situation.”
Last to speak was Laura Smith, a sex crimes investigator with IMPD.
Smith used famous sexual assault cases, such as the Penn State and Stubenville, Ohio cases, to demonstrate her two driving points: be a good friend and don’t blame the victim.
She pulled up images of girls’ bodies being sexual assaulted or abused and asked the audience if the girl wanted that to happen to her just because she dressed a certain way, or deserved it because she was too drunk.
Smith shocked the audience with a graphic image of a woman who was passed out drunk and left by a friend in a car in Broad Ripple.
The photo is what the friend came back and saw: her friend completely naked with semen all over her legs, still passed out.
Smith encouraged the audience to remember that friends come before “the frat brother that you like who will stop liking you if you help to report his buddy.”
A main theme of the presentation was a call to end blaming the victim.
“As women, I feel that we have to deal with stereotypes that it’s our fault if we’re raped,” freshman attendee Hannah Mentjes said. “As a society, we need to get rid of the stigma around rape and talk about it freely.”
Mentjes is a student in the Rape Aggression Defense course at Butler, which teaches self defense against physical attacks.
“Teaching women self defense helps them to empower themselves,” R.A.D. instructor Anthony Rivera said. “They get to know what they are capable of as a person.”
Sarah Barnes Diaz , Butler health programs education and outreach coordinator, shared information about resources on campus in the Health and Counseling Center.
Barnes Diaz serves as a 24-hour victim’s advocate and can be reached by students at all hours of the day.
Barnes Diaz also encouraged students to seek university help if their friends reveal that they were a victim of sexual violence.
“Just be a good friend,” Smith repeated during the presentation. “If you go out together, go back together. You may be able to tell yourself that your friend wanted that guy in the bar,”