Summit held for ending campus sexual assault

- An Eastern Michigan University summit is focused on ending campus sexual assault.

That was the theme Monday in Ypsilanti hosted by Michigan first lady Sue Snyder hosting the day-long event, joined by experts addressing a wide range of topics.

"We all must work together to create an environment where survivors feel safe and courage to be heard," Sue Snyder said.

That was the main focus of the summit which first began by Snyder three years ago. Students and staff took part in presentations and workshops learning how we can best approach the problem.

"If people don't talk about it ever happening, how do you deal with it," Gov. Rick Snyder said. "A big part of the first step you need to do is you need to have honesty about how bad this problem is and what the ramifications are. You need to create an environment where you can talk about it. Because that's when you can change the culture."

One of the biggest issues for survivors, the fear of coming forward. They are worried over a social stigma and belief they could be blamed.

One expert spoke about the negative consequences staying silent, can have.

"She didn't want to tell anyone," said Dr. Rebecca Campbell, Michigan State University. "She needed the assault to go away, head down, focused, bury it. The problem is that it doesn't bury well.

"A lot of survivors tend to have a lot of physical health symptoms after they have been sexually assaulted."

The Snyder's daughter Kelsey, a senior at University of Michigan, is heavily involved in spreading awareness, and educating both men and women about this vital issue. She believes we are making progress.

"It is just very moving to see all these people coming forward being able to say these things now," said Kelsey Snyder. "They understand that people will come to them and say I understand, I believe you."

Sue Snyder wants the state to create a campus sexual assault work group to help survivors report crimes and find the support they need to heal."
 

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