During the summer between her sophomore and junior years at the University of Connecticut, Kylie Angell suffered the ultimate betrayal. A male student, whom she considered a good friend, sexually assaulted her.
That was 2010. Today, Angell is a poised young woman who works as an emergency room nurse in Norwalk, Connecticut. She’s also an activist, speaking out against sexual assault and victim-blaming at college campuses and other venues across the country.
"Before this happened to me, I didn’t realize what a huge problem sexual assault on college campuses is,” Angell said in a phone interview. “I used to think the typical assailant was someone hiding in a dark alley or someone who drugs you in a club when you didn’t cover your drink. Clearly, that was not the case in my situation. It took me a while to grasp the enormity of what he had done to me.
“At first I blamed myself. But friends and people working at UConn’s Women’s Center helped me understand it doesn’t matter if you were drinking or what you were wearing, it’s still rape.”
The Buffalo State community has the opportunity to hear Angell’s story on Tuesday, October 20, at 6:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall. Angell’s talk is part of the “I Love Consent” awareness campaign sponsored by the Equity and Campus Diversity Office, Weigel Health Promotions, Residence Life, and Student Life. It is free and open to the public.
“I believe Kylie’s message is authentic and it could have a lasting impact on our students,” said Jason Parker, diversity program coordinator with the Equity and Campus Diversity Office.
Indeed, people of all ages have responded to Angell’s story with their own accounts of being sexually victimized.
“Some people who have never talked about what happened to them 15 years ago are coming forward and getting involved in activism,” Angell said. “It empowers the victim to heal by becoming a survivor, no longer feel guilty and or ashamed, and combating rape culture.”
Angell was featured in Lisa Jackson’s 2015 documentary It Happened Here, about sexual assault on college campuses, and is one of five students who received a settlement from the University of Connecticut for failing to adjudicate sexual misconduct properly and failing to stop harassment on campus as required under the federal gender equity law Title IX.
Buffalo State continues to advocate a proactive approach to preventing sexual assault through its “I Love Consent” campaign, which began earlier this year following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s directive that all SUNY campuses institute a system-wide set of practices to combat sexual assault on campus.
Since the campaign was rolled out, Parker and Paula Madrigal, assistant director of prevention and health promotion for the Weigel Health Center, have held numerous workshops to spread the measure of “affirmative consent,” defined as a clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed, and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in sexual activity.
“I believe these workshops have been well-received considering the fact that many students are mandated to attend due to their leadership roles on campus,” Madrigal said. “I do believe that we may see an increase in students reporting their assaults and talking more openly about their relationships as a result of the campaign and these workshops.”
Angell applauded Buffalo State for being proactive in its approach to a nationwide problem.
“Some schools, if they are not under investigation, just go under the radar, pretending this isn’t happening,” she said. “If everyone tries to raise awareness, one day the culture will change.”
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