Tragedy turned to triumph

The sisters of Alpha Chi Omega sorority sponsored an event called “Kristin’s Story,” on Tuesday, April 8. The event presented a mother’s personal encounter with acquaintance rape and sexual assault that led to her daughter’s suicide.

The speaker, Andrea Cooper, was the mother of a young woman and member of Alpha Chi Omega, Kristin Cooper, 20, who committed suicide on New Year’s Eve in 1995 after her rape in August 1995.

Yet, their daughter’s journal explained to them the chain of events that led to the tragedy they encountered.

 

 

They read of a date in August when her daughter went with friends to watch a movie at a male friend’s house. After her friends left, Kristin remained behind to hang out with a man she had been friends with for two years. Andrea read that her daughter felt safe with the boy and trusted him, and then he raped her. Her daughter told a friend the next day but did not alert authorities, talk to a counselor or tell her parents.

Since her daughter’s death, Andrea has spent the last 16 years traveling the country and has given more than 500 presentations of “Kristin’s Story.”

“I am sharing this because I hope by telling Kristin’s story that other lives will be saved, and other young women will not be victims of acquaintance rape, and that those suffering from depression, for any reason, will get help,” Cooper said.

Sexual assault is a prevalent topic nationwide. One in five college women report being raped in their lifetime and one in four report surviving rape or attempted rape since their 14th birthday.

Rape can occur in male-female, female-female and male-male situations.

On top of that, 42 percent of rape survivors told no one.

At ASU specifically, 3.2 percent of women and 0.6 percent of men reported being raped in the previous year, while 6.2 percent of women and 2.9 percent of men have reported sexual assault in the previous year.

Sexual assault as a whole can be defined as attempted or completed non-consensual sexual acts, including touching, anal, oral or vaginal penetration.

Rape and sexual assault have become taboo topics and people are reluctant to tell anyone or seek help for many reasons, from concern over personal image to the fear of not being believed.

The Alpha Chi Omega Foundation supports “Kristin’s Story;” the sisters of Alpha Chi Omega at ASU fully sponsored the event. They applied last year and were chosen to be one of Andrea Cooper’s final visits.

The presentation at ASU drew in a crowd of about 250 Greek members.

Alpha Chi Omega’s chapter president at ASU, Kendra Swanson, said the fact that Alpha Chi Omega could put on a program such as this one was a very proud and rewarding thing for their chapter, not only because the victim was a member but also because their philanthropy supports victims of domestic violence.

“Overall, I think Alpha Chi got this conversation started at ASU, and our chapter is looking forward to hopefully see our campus and Greek life become more educated about sexual assault and what to do if it were to ever happen to you,” Swanson said.

Kristin’s story gave a powerful account of tragedy turned to triumph, it presented an opportunity for women and men alike to understand the life long repercussions rape victims face and more importantly how to perceive and support those who are victims.

It was an honor to hear such an encouraging woman speak; it truly brought together the students that were present. I think it is safe to say her daughter did not die in vain.

Reach the columnist at Lauren.Klenda@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @laurenklenda

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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