Sexual assault advocates share their stories at RIC

Erica Clark –Asst. News Editor

Suzanne Alden and Erin Cheschi shed a light last Wednesday for Sexual Assault Awareness Month by speaking about their personal experiences. Alden and Cheschi spoke to a small class in Adams Library 405 last Wednesday to a group of upcoming student therapists.  

Both women, who are survivors of sexual assault, shared two different stories on their experiences of having to live with trauma after their assaults.

One of the largest issues both women faced in their fight for justice is dealing with the criminal justice system.

“I felt like I was in the darkest tunnel, I couldn’t see the light,” Cheschi stated after discovering the justice system was not going to help her. She then had to become her own advocate.  

Cheschi described experiencing a sexual assault as a loss of power and a loss of self. Through losing herself in such a wounding situation, Cheschi described how important it is to find yourself again through creativity. Her output was writing.

Alden, who is currently raising a son who is about to be a teenager, described raising him in a #MeToo culture. She makes sure to set her own boundaries with him, rather than boundaries which are sometimes taught to females in today’s society. “I want to teach him to respect her wearing a skirt, not that she can’t wear the skirt.”

One of Alden’s largest dilemmas when facing her perpetrator was being afraid if she told someone, no one would believe her.

“If you get a positive response from abuse, you heal much faster,” Alden described to an upcoming therapist when dealing with patients who confide in them with personal information, especially mandate reporters.

When working with children, the fear of disclosure is real. Having a negative response, Alden described, makes it harder for anyone else to disclose personal information without feeling neglected, or guilty.

Experiencing such a traumatic situation, one of the key elements to healing, Alden said, was forgiveness. “When you get to the point of forgiveness, you really know you moved along. If you don’t cope with it, there’s no way to go beyond it.”