Rape survivor hopes for change, "You can't hide forever"

Rape survivor hopes for change, "You can't hide forever"

TYLER (KYTX) - An effort to combat not only domestic violence, but also sexual assault is happening right now in East Texas. 

The East Texas Crisis Center has established the Smith County Justice Project to better help abuse survivors.

One of those survivors shared her story with CBS 19's Courtney Friedman, in an effort to bring awareness and make change.

When Olivia LeVoy ventured off to college at 18 years old, she was ready and excited for new adventures. However, what she experienced her first year, she could have never prepared for.

"We were getting ready for winter finals and I had this really good guy friend, at least I thought he was a really good guy friend. I invited him to come over and study with me."

She says before she knew it, she was being raped in her dorm room.

"I'm not very strong. I'm little and he was big. So I fought as much as I could until I was literally exhausted."

She kept her secret for months. She even dropped out of school.
"Emotionally I was devastated. I hid it for a very long time," she says.

Finally she confided in a friend, who brought her to the East Texas Crisis Center. She saw Sexual Assault Counselor Britney Hilbun several times a week for over a year, until she found happiness once again.

"Now I'm a sophomore at college, and I graduate in the summer with two associates. I've realized I'm a fighter and I'm a survivor," she says.

As a survivor, she's glad to see programs like the Family Justice Project, which brings big agencies together to better understand domestic and sexual abuse and help people like LeVoy recover from it.

However, LeVoy says there's a long way to go.

"People aren't informed enough," she says. "People need to stop being scared about saying the words, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, human sex trafficking, because it exists everywhere."

She hopes her story of resilience will lead other survivors to find their voices, and ask for help.

"My journey never ends," she says. "You just don't stop being a rape victim. You'll always be a rape victim, but eventually the word victim disappears and you're a rape survivor. You're a sexual assault survivor and that's what I am."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse or sexual assault there are agencies that can help. You can report the violence to any local law enforcement agency, or you can go to the East Texas Crisis Center. 

To find out more about the East Texas Crisis Center, click here. 



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