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More than victims: Survivor Walk encourages awareness to sexual assault

ASU Women's HERstory Month brings survivors and students of sexual assault together

Desiree Duke poses for a photo holding a sign during the Survivor Walk on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at Hayden Lawn on ASU's Tempe campus.

Desiree Duke poses for a photo holding a sign during the Survivor Walk on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at Hayden Lawn on ASU's Tempe campus.

The chants of close to 100 ASU students echoed “This is a dress, not a yes,” on Hayden Lawn during the Survivor Walk, Women’s HERstory Month event.

The Womyn’s Coalition hosted the walk to bring awareness to sexual assault, a prevalent issue on college campuses; nearly one in five women and one in 16 men have experienced it during his or her college career, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Ivana Bejaran, a field organizer for the Fight for Her Campaign, lead a group that contributed to the event.

“We are expecting a little over 100 students to show up,” Bejaran said. “We are going to be having some people speaking … and then we are going to be walking for 45 minutes to an hour. We are just standing up for the victims and walking with them and for them.”

Bejaran said this walk was not only an opportunity to have students come together, but also on-campus organizations that are fighting for a similar cause. Some of the organizations who participated in both tabling and walking the event included: Voices for Planned Parenthood, Womyn’s Coalition, USG, Devils in the Bedroom, Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault and others.

The walk encouraged survivors of sexual assault to come out and participate while offering information about ASU resources that may be helpful to students.

One of those students was Chasity Flores, a dance and journalism junior who was sexually assaulted last semester by a close friend. Flores took advantage of ASU’s police and counseling services in order to cope and recover from the traumatic experience.

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“It was really rough because I didn’t know how to go about it,” Flores said. “Through ASU I was able to get guidance for counseling and for going through with the reporting process.”

During the reporting process, Flores said she felt as if Tempe Police could have handled the issue better.

“When being interviewed by the police about the report, I felt like there were some questions that were asked like they would ask you what you were wearing and things like that,” Flores said. “I feel like that is not necessary because if something was to happen to someone, I don’t think what they’re wearing has anything to do with the fact that something happened to them.”

The Survivor Walk focused on calling people who have gone through sexual assault "survivors" rather than "victims."

“Just because you’ve gone through this doesn’t make you a victim but in fact a survivor,” Flores said. “I go around and volunteer and do whatever I can to be a part of anything that has to do with being a woman and women’s rights.”

Another survivor, Desiree Duke, a justice studies junior, was brave enough to reveal her experience of being molested at the age of eight. She said she's made it a point to not let it affect her future.

“The thing with me is I never really let it bring me down,” Duke said. “I grew from it. You can take that thing that happened to you and you can let it destroy you and you can let it burn you to the ground and make you weak and let whoever win. Or you can take that experience and you can grow from it, prevail and persevere.”

The Survivor Walk provided students and survivors, such as Duke, to come together and stand against sexual assault.

“I survived,” Duke said. “I am still here and he did not defeat me in anyway.”

Correction: Due to a reporting error, the police department who handled Chasity Flores's sexual assault case was misidentified. The article has been updated to reflect the changes.

Clarification: The group that Ivana Bejaran oversees only contributed to the event. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @marcellabaietto on Twitter.

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