Lucy’s Story

"The part of you that wants to heal is stronger than the part of you that’s broken."

It was the sixth week of Lucy’s freshman year, and she was dancing at a college party. She eventually went back to the dorm room of an athlete. “I remember knowing in my head, somehow, you had to scream “no” or yell “stop” at least three times. And because I didn’t do that, I thought, well, I can’t say this is sexual assault,” said Lucy.

“He was a student athlete, so I never officially reported it. And I knew if I did that it would just be an uphill fight.”

Survivor Lucy poses, talks about recovering from sexual assault

Lucy grew up in a family that centered around Big 10 sports, and she chose to go to her father’s alma mater. “Having been raised a sports fan, I heard plenty of stories where ‘athletes at the peak of their careers’ were being ‘accused’ of rape, and then I saw the victims trashed in the press. I did not want that to be me.”

Still, Lucy took steps to receive medical care after the assault, such as getting tested for STIs at the university health clinic. She had a negative experience with the examining physician that ultimately contributed to her sense of shame, and fear of not being believed. “Society told me this wasn’t a big deal, and it was my fault. And that’s how I felt.”

Lucy faced challenges with depression, substance abuse, and anxiety as a result of the assault. She sought counseling and was able to complete her degree, but many years later was still suffering. She lost her voice—a struggle that would be difficult for any survivor, but was heartbreaking to a professional singer like Lucy. “I knew the therapy to get my [vocal cords working again] was to tell my story… but it wasn’t easy to talk about.”

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Through activities like meditation, one-on-one therapy, group healing, and sharing her story with loved ones, Lucy found her voice again. As she grew stronger, she realized that her music had the potential to offer hope to other survivors of sexual assault, and she set to work on a new project commissioning works of music that explore her personal challenges with recovery and the larger, systemic challenges that make it difficult to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence.

More than a decade later, Lucy has not given up on achieving justice. “The amount of back-and-forth, waiting for returned phone calls, leaving messages, reading about the law, trying to find information and answers, it was totally exhausting,” Lucy explained. “I 100% sympathize with the feeling that you’re hitting a wall. What keeps me going is knowing that I’m doing this on behalf of so many women out there who do not have justice. I just want to keep telling them, if we don’t keep hitting the wall, the wall won’t come down.”

Today Lucy spends her time as a singer, producer, and animal lover. She continues to share her story in hopes that other survivors—especially college students—will have the confidence to believe in themselves and own the trauma they’ve been through. “So many older women I’ve talked to have said they had a similar experience in their college years. We can’t continue to stay numb to this. We just can’t.”


Lucy is one of seven survivors featured in the RAINN Survivor Series. Learn more about the campaign.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org, y en español: rainn.org/es.

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