Lorain high school students demonstrate for sexual assault awareness
LORAIN, Ohio – Students at Lorain High School have taken a stand against sexual assault after a classmate said she organized a protest to raise awareness following her own experience as an assault survivor sexual.
What do you want to know
- Lorain High School sophomore says she staged a social media protest to raise awareness of sexual assault after her own experience by reporting it to school leaders
- Organizer says nearly 250 students gathered in school auditorium and shared their stories of sexual assault
- Following the protest, schools in the town of Lorain called in a crisis team made up of sexual trauma experts as well as detectives.
Videos of a student-led protest on January 14 have been shared on Instagram.
The organizer said about 250 students gathered in the school’s auditorium and shared their stories of sexual assault for nearly two hours. Some allegations were recent and school-related and some dated from early childhood, she said.
“I couldn’t have spoken without everyone’s support and everyone being there. But I’m just glad I did, and I was the first to start, and it allowed so many other people to feel comfortable coming and telling their story,” the organizer said.
Spectrum News does not reveal the identities of reported victims of sexual assault. The organizer, a 15-year-old student from Lorraine, estimated that 50 other people shared their stories.
“I knew there would be a lot, but it really broke my heart seeing how many students this has happened and how, for example, the school just doesn’t show they care. us when it comes to situations like that. And they don’t want to talk about situations like this. And they just sweep things under the rug,” she said.
The student, who runs the social media page and organized the protest, did not want the interview with Spectrum News recorded, but wanted to share her story nonetheless.
The second said she was a cheerleader who was sexually assaulted by a football player during the school day. She said it happened in a classroom at Lorain High School in September.
“I first went to the counselor about it and he had said things like ‘boys have hormones’ and made me feel, like, maybe I shouldn’t talk about it and told me crawled into this hole. And I kind of just tried to move on, but I realized I couldn’t get over it and I couldn’t get over it,” he said. she declared. “So I had gone to see another trusted adult at school, and they went to see the vice principal, one of the vice principals, and, at first, she gave the impression that she was really cared about it and that things were going to happen, but ultimately it was like she was trying to speed up the investigation. She was saying things like, ‘Oh, if it was me, I would have fought him. I would have done this. I would have done that.” And she made me feel, like I was being blamed by the victim. And after that, it made me think how many other students they’ve done that. So, that made me made me want to start the event.
Nancy Kortemeyer is senior director of marketing and communications at Beech Brook, a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral health services, with Lorain High School being part of the organization’s school program.
“You know, most people just don’t believe it’s happening and they don’t believe it’s so prevalent and then kids aren’t believed when they show up and try to talk about it,” he said. Kortemeyer. “I hope that not only Lorain, but also other school systems, will realize that this happens often and that they need to do everything they can to make the environment safe for children to show up and talk about it and have qualified people there to help them with their trauma.”
Following the protest, schools in the city of Lorain called in a crisis team, which includes sexual trauma experts from Beech Brook and the North Center as well as detectives from the Lorain Police Department.
“I am aware of the situation. Child Services and Lorain Police have met/are meeting these minors,” an LPD spokesperson said. “Children’s Services will complete and forward all references to the Detective Bureau, so they can be reviewed/assigned.”
Lorain City Schools released a statement in response to the protest directed at Spectrum News reporter Micaela Marshall.
In response, Superintendent Dr Jeff Graham said he “witnessed a moment when all of us present will be changed forever”.
“Our children are suffering,” he said in a statement. “And we adults, and all of our systems, processes, and promises, fail to protect them from each other, from us, and from themselves.”
Kortemeyer said more education about how to handle sexual assault allegations is needed for those in schools who work with children.
“Trauma doesn’t go away. Untreated trauma does not go away with time. It really needs to be addressed,” she said.
The student who started the conversation plans to continue sharing the stories of other survivors anonymously on social media, in the hope that real change will come from it.
“Anyone who wants to submit their story anonymously, they don’t have to be from Lorain High, can submit their story and I’ll post it. And that’s a way for them to be heard I guess, or a way to help them feel heard,” she said. “And I’ve gotten so many messages from people saying it’s a good way to help them be heard. And it’s just, like, I’m glad it’s a safe place for people to share their stories.”