During my freshman year at the George Washington University, I became a statistic. I joined the 20% of women who are sexually assaulted during college. The night I was raped, I felt like less of a human. I was an object, used to someone else’s advantage.
Speaking out, quite literally, gave me a voice again. My voice helped me regain who I am, what my values are, and what I can do with my experience. In 2014, I was asked to interview for the film “The Hunting Ground.” I had no idea how much my life would change. I started speaking on panels, connecting to other survivors, even working alongside the university on a task force; I felt human again. Every time I would speak publicly, survivors would tell me their stories. They, too, found their voice.
When I stood backstage at the Oscars and listened to Lady Gaga’s words of solidarity before the performance, it hit me just how many survivors would be affected and would come forward. In that moment, I knew why I was there, and I felt the power we all had to change lives.
By bringing this issue into the light, we are helping survivors find their voice. And I find that very reassuring.
Maya Weinstein is an alumna of George Washington University Hillel.