The Daily Northwestern

Author of viral article recounting sexual assault experience speaks at Northwestern

Angie+Epifano+talks+about+the+culture+surrounding+sexual+violence+on+college+campuses.+Epifano+gained+national+attention+after+an+account+she+wrote+about+her+own+experience+with+sexual+assault+went+viral.+
Angie Epifano talks about the culture surrounding sexual violence on college campuses. Epifano gained national attention after an account she wrote about her own experience with sexual assault went viral.

Angie Epifano talks about the culture surrounding sexual violence on college campuses. Epifano gained national attention after an account she wrote about her own experience with sexual assault went viral.

Ebony Calloway/The Daily Northwestern

Ebony Calloway/The Daily Northwestern

Angie Epifano talks about the culture surrounding sexual violence on college campuses. Epifano gained national attention after an account she wrote about her own experience with sexual assault went viral.

Lan Nguyen, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The former Amherst College student whose account of her rape went viral last year had a clear message for Northwestern students Tuesday night: There are no blurred lines between sexual assault and consensual sex.

“You will not have nightmares about consensual sex,” Angie Epifano said.

Epifano discussed measures to combat sexual violence at the McCormick Tribune Center on Tuesday in a talk sponsored by Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault. The speech marked MARS’ first solo event without another student group, organizers said.

Epifano was raped in 2011 at Amherst. More than a year later, she published her story, “An Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst College,” in The Amherst Student, the school’s independent newspaper. The account describes her experience with the rape and her struggles with school authorities afterward.

The piece went viral last year as people read and related to her story, even causing the Student’s website to crash for a period of time. Epifano said she received hundreds of emails and messages from people who had similar experiences.

(Amherst account spurs discussion of sexual assault at Northwestern)

“My story had an impact because if you took my name and the place names out, it would relate to hundreds of thousands of people,” Epifano said.

After Epifano’s story was published, dozens of students from other universities were inspired to share their experiences with sexual violence. One such student was then-Weinberg senior Lauren Buxbaum, who spoke about her own rape to The Daily in November 2012.

“It was seriously like reading my story,” Buxbaum told The Daily at the time, referring to Epifano’s account.

(In Focus: Amherst account inspires Northwestern student to reveal own sexual assault)

Epifano noted in her talk the importance of students realizing how many people are affected by sexual violence. One out of four college-aged women and one out of every seven college-aged men report being sexually assaulted. However, 54 percent of sexual violence victims don’t report it, Epifano said. 

Epifano suggested that the large number of unreported incidents is due to unsupportive school administrators.

“When I reported my rape, I wasn’t asked about my rapist,” Epifano said. “I was asked what I could have done differently to prevent the situation, which caused a lot of self-blame.”

Epifano said Amherst administrators did not allow her to switch dorms, even though her living space reminded her of the room in which she was raped. She later found that this was illegal and that Title IX grants students rights to be accommodated in order to feel safe.

She also spoke of the Dear Colleague Letter, which lays out steps for schools to be fully compliant with Title IX.

“It was really interesting to hear about Title IX and all the resources available for survivors,” said SESP senior Emily Rivest, who attended the event.

Epifano expressed gratitude to MARS for hosting her on campus.

“MARS is an amazing group of guys,” Epifano said. “I’m so glad I reached out to them.”

The speech was the first of several that Epifano will deliver at schools around the country within the next couple of weeks.

“Schools should be framing the survivor movement and sexual respect as something everyone can be supportive of,” she said. “It’s not anti-frat or anti-male. It’s a movement that wants to create a safe environment that allows people to heal.”

Email: lannguyen2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @LanNguyen_NU

Comments