One of the nastiest and most harmful misconceptions about sexual assault survivors who speak out is that they are doing so for their own gain. Chessy Prout never wanted the spotlight. In fact, she remained anonymous during her well-publicized trial in which her perpetrator, Owen Labrie, was found guilty of sexual assault on St. Paul’s campus as part of a “Senior Salute” ritual.
“For a while I tried to get back to normal life,” Chessy says. “I tried to be a normal 15-year-old girl. But the physical and emotional aftermath of a sexual assault is something I could have never imagined. Trolls posted pictures of my family, my little sister and put my address and phone number on the Internet. In a situation where I had lost complete control, I wanted to take it back. I want to help other women realize they can take it back too. I want to let them know that there’s a community out in the world that’s ready to stand up and fight for them and that they can come out and feel comfortable in speaking up for themselves and taking back their control.”
That’s why, two years after her assault, Chessy decided to identify herself and fight. Chessy and her family took on St. Paul’s: determined to change the harmful norms that led to her assault and hold them accountable to ensure other high school students do not have the same experience she did.
Chessy also started the #IHaveTheRightTo campaign in collaboration with PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment. Since launching the #IHaveTheRightTo campaign on the Today Show, hundreds of young women have spoken out. At just 17 years old, Chessy has ignited a movement to let other girls know that they have the right to their bodies, respect, and a safe place to learn.
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