Survivors and Authors Kelly Yang and Chessy Prout Discuss Campus Sexual Violence at RAINN’s Virtual Coffeehouse

RAINN recently hosted a virtual coffeehouse discussion with authors, survivors, and activists Kelly Yang and Chessy Prout on creating safer environments for students on high school and college campuses and making sure all survivors have the resources they need to heal. The survivors shared personal stories about their experiences, calling the conversation “a celebration of survivorship.” If you missed it, watch it here!

The conversation was introduced by Janet Jensen, a survivor, founder of the Jensen Project, and member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council. Campus reform activist and survivor Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright, a member of the RAINN Speakers Bureau, moderated the discussion. Lacy’s experience as a survivor of sexual violence as a high school student and her successful effort to reform statutes of limitations on all University of Califronia campuses made her the perfect host for this conversation.

New York Times-bestselling author Kelly Yang discussed her just-released young adult novel, Parachutes,​ about a teenage girl from Shanghai whose family has sent her to attend high school in California. Inspired by her own experience as a survivor, the book delves into sexual violence and trauma on high school and college campuses, as well as questions of immigration, friendship, and wealth.

“When I brought up the charges against the person who did this to me, the administration not only did not believe me, but they went after me for malicious prosecution. At one point, my own ability to graduate was threatened and was on the line,” said Kelly during the event. “It’s not okay to continue this, and only by understanding how it works, can we do something collectively about it. Raise our voices, raise our sledgehammers, and dismantle it!”

Joining Kelly in this conversation was Chessy Prout, a high school sexual assault survivor, advocate, and author of the memoir ​I Have The Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice and Hope​. Since stepping forward publicly in 2016, Chessy launched the #IHaveTheRightTo campaign and has spoken internationally on the topics of consent education in K-12 schools.

“Students do not lack activism and do not lack the courage and power to try to promote change. It’s the institutions that really need to carry their weight,” said Chessy during the conversation. “It’s about time that institutions realize that all we want is recognition of our pain, of our trauma.”

To learn more about creating safe campus environments and supporting survivors, read RAINN’s new article on Title IX considerations for students and parents to keep in mind this upcoming semester in light of remote learning. To watch and share the virtual coffeehouse discussion, click here.

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