Kuster Discusses Efforts to Address Sexual Violence with Sexual Assault Survivor and Advocates at UNH School of Law
(Concord, NH) – Last night, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined sexual assault survivor Chessy Prout, advocates from sexual assault prevention groups, and care providers from around the state at the University of New Hampshire School of Law for a panel discussion on how to address sexual violence. This event follows the launch of Congresswoman Kuster’s Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) has found that nearly one in four women and one in twenty men in New Hampshire have been sexually assaulted.
“The issue of sexual violence knows no bounds,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “It cuts across party lines and impacts women, men, and families from every single district in this country. This is not a new issue and it won’t be solved overnight, but we owe it to our children to face this challenge head on. I want to thank Chessy and other survivors for having the strength to tell their stories. Their voices are critical to advancing this issue, and I look forward to working with survivors, advocates, and my colleagues in Congress to help grow this conversation among people throughout the country. We can get this done together.”
In addition to Chessy Prout, Congresswoman Kuster was joined in the discussion by Forrest Seymour, coordinator of sexual violence prevention at Keene State College, Peggy O’Neil, executive director of WISE of the Upper Valley, and representatives from NHCADSV, among others.
“I want to help other young women and men realize that there is a team, there are teams of people that are willing to help you and believe you and support you,” said Chessy Prout. “And it’s not our position to be shamed, it is the perpetrators who are supposed to be ashamed of what they’re doing and I feel like it’s my job to make kids in high school and middle school, and even younger, more comfortable talking about these uncomfortable things because it’s necessary.”
Prout continued, “I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family, and a supportive community now, and people like Congresswoman Kuster who believe in the same things I believe in as an 18 year old girl. I believe that it’s our time to really stand up and fight for our rights, and to fight for our own respect and dignity. I’m tired of being silenced and ashamed.”
“The Coalition is grateful to have such a tremendous ally and champion for survivors in Congress, and we are deeply appreciative of Congresswoman Kuster's unwavering commitment to eliminating sexual assault in both New Hampshire and throughout the country,” said Lyn Schollett, Executive Director at NHCADSV, who moderated the discussion.
“When survivors like Congresswoman Kuster and Chessy Prout are brave enough to come forward and share their experiences, we need to listen, learn from their realities, and improve our response,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs at NHCADSV. “We have the power to eliminate sexual assault in the Granite State, but it will take collaboration and commitment from all of us.”
Congresswoman Kuster launched the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence earlier this month with her colleagues, Representatives Patrick Meehan (PA-07), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and David Joyce (OH-14). The Task Force will focus on K-12 education, college campus safety, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, improved data and collection, online harassment, and law enforcement training. Throughout the rest of the 115th Congress, the Task Force will be holding hearings on its areas of focus, developing and releasing a legislative agenda, and hosting educational briefings for staff and Members to raise awareness about the primary policy issues related to sexual violence.