A teenage girl from California took a stand at her high school graduation with a sign that read “Rapists don’t belong @ graduation,” a gesture she said was meant to shine a light on her school district’s handling of sexual assault cases.
Sofia Rossi, 18, waved the sign in the air as she went across the stage to collect her diploma earlier this month, according to the SF Gate.
“I wanted to show survivors of sexual violence in the audience that the school allowing perpetrators to walk at graduation was not acceptable,” she said to the local newspaper.
“We had to hear administrators read the names of student assailants and listen as hundreds of people applauded them. I couldn’t let the survivors watching think that’s what they deserved, to watch their abuser be celebrated as they fly across the stage.”
Ms Rossi founded the organisation From Survivors, For Survivors, a support group for people who had experienced sexual assault. According to her, the group had begun a petition that campaigned to get the school to disallow “student rapists” from milestone occasions like graduation and prom.
“Clearly, the school didn’t listen to us because well-known perpetrators walked at the ceremony just like everybody else,” she said.
In May, Mia Lozoya, a student at Ms Rossi’s high school, said she was a victim of a sexual assault, saying her attacker was a senior.
According to NBC News, Ms Lozoya filed a complaint with the police but a lack of evidence resulted in no charges.
According to the Rape, Assault, Incest National Network, mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder can manifest after a sexual assault.
RAINN state on their website, “Sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor. These effects aren’t always easy to deal with, but with the right help and support they can be managed. Learning more can help you find the best form of care to begin the healing process.”
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