‘My truth is the truth:’ Raising survivor awareness on campus

Sophie Knue, founder and president of Butler Survivors Alliance, performs “idontwannabeyouanymore” by Billie Eilish. Photo by Natalie Goo

MAIRIN MCCARTHY | STAFF REPORTER | mkmccarthy@butler.edu 

Disclaimer: Elliott Robinson is a Collegian staff member and therefore could not be interviewed as a conflict of interest

The second annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month Arts Showcase allowed survivors of sexual misconduct to express themselves through poetry, music, art and personal essays to spread awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence. Butler Survivors Alliance (BSA) hosted this event on April 4 at Schrott Center for the Arts. The showcase was organized by BSA executive members Sophie Knue, Gabby Seleps and Laney Strasser and advisor Jules Grable. BSA serves as a space for survivors and allies to receive support and build connections on campus. 

According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around half of women and about one in three men have experienced sexual misconduct involving unwanted physical contact during their lifetimes. 

Sophie Knue, a junior sociology-criminology major, has served as BSA president since founding the organization last year. Knue sang and played the song “idontwannabeyouanymore” by Billie Eilish on the piano during the showcase. 

“[The event] fell together and went really well,” Knue said. “It was nice having a lot of people work together [to create this showcase]. I’m planning on going all out [for next year’s showcase]. I want it to be as big as possible and include as many people as possible.” 

Both students and staff participated in nine performance pieces during the event, using the safe space to recall personal testimonies and anonymous entries in the form of music performances and readings to spread awareness about the impact of sexual misconduct. 

David Murray, a professor of bass and director of the School of Music, performed “Bourees I & II – Suite 4” by J.S. Bach on the bass during the showcase. 

“This piece is full of joy,” Murray wrote in the pamphlet provided to audience members before the showcase. “We must understand and embrace the grief and tragedy associated with assault, but also celebrate our strength when we are able to overcome adversity.” 

Senior English major Elliott Robinson performed a self-written poem titled “my therapist asks me to be celibate” during the showcase. 

“I wrote this piece as a declaration that something did, in fact, happen to me,” Robinson wrote in the pamphlet provided to audience members before the showcase. “Something that irreparably altered my life regardless of the evidence I do or don’t have, and I hope it encompasses all the anger and pain of every victim that has not been believed, as I was not believed.” 

Gabby Seleps, a first-year political science and international studies double major, is the historian for BSA and read Leslie Morgan’s essay “Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave” during the showcase. Seleps chose this piece because it “fit very well hitting on the stigma of domestic violence survivors,” as Seleps wrote in the pamphlet provided to audience members before the showcase. 

“The emotions behind [the showcase] were big, especially when we’re talking about a sensitive topic,” Seleps said. “We have such a big support system [through BSA], and we were all here to support each other.” 

Laney Strasser, a sophomore English and political science double major, is the treasurer of BSA and performed a self-written poem titled “Tickles”. According to the pamphlet provided to audience members before the show, Strasser “wrote this piece of poetry in commemoration of the many different pieces of life that are lost as a victim of sexual violence.” 

“This is a very impactful and important event to all of us,” Strasser said. “We love any chance we can get to spread awareness and let people know on campus that they’re not alone in their experience.” 

Abby Kom, a senior organizational communication and music double major, gave a rendition of the essay “Confessions of a Prairie B*tch” by Alison Arngrim to close out the night. 

April 2024 marks 23 years of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As the director of student advocacy, Jules Grable is a confidential resource, providing a safe space for survivors of sexual misconduct. 

“The heart of my job is to support survivors of sexual misconduct, whether that’s sexual violence, relationship violence, stalking, harassment or exploitation,” Grable said. 

Grable’s office, Counseling and Consultation Services, Health Services and any ordained clergy at the Compass Center formerly the Center for Faith and Vocation are confidential resources available to all students on campus. 

Firefly Children & Family Alliance and the Julian Center, two off-campus resources that work to aid and support survivors, contributed raffle items and organization representatives before and after the showcase. Firefly offers a range of support programs to Indiana families, individuals and children in times of crisis. The Julian Center, the largest domestic abuse treatment center supporting survivors in Indiana, provides a comprehensive set of tools and resources to empower individuals. 

Other resources include the National Sexual Assault Hotline and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Both sources offer crisis support services and connect survivors with trained professionals. 

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-4673 and also offers an online chatroom

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233 and offers a similar online chatroom

“[BSA] loves advocating for survivors,” Strasser said. “This month [and this showcase] is extra special to [BSA] with it being the start of Sexual Assault Awareness month. I am so thankful that Butler cares enough about their students to give us [Grable and the Office of Student Advocacy].” 


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