Building ‘connection through healing,’ sexual abuse survivors tell their stories.

By Siani Nunez
October 19, 2021

It’s a touchy subject filled with lots of emotions, like shame, sadness and fear but sexual abuse needs to be denounced. If not, more people will suffer in silence. 

Cabrini hosts their annual Domestic Violence Education symposium event every October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Hosted by The Jordan Center and co-sponsored by the social work department, The symposium took place on Oct. 5 in both Grace Hall and virtually.

Speakers in-person and virtual. Photo by Siani Nunez

This year’s theme was “The Importance of Connection in Healing.” And on the elevated, Cabrini blue podium against the mural on the wall painted with diverse faces, special guests like Sarah G. Klein, Mackenzie and Carla Clanagan, Ruth M. Glenn and Rhett Hackett took the stage to expose the horrors that were done to them. 

As they listened, students and faculty learned about common behaviors and language abusers will use to take advantage of their victims and how to heal their trauma by speaking up.

Meanwhile, a woman in the center of the room lovingly caressed her husband, embodying the theme of connection.

The speech quickly became serious once the speakers began to discuss grooming and “good guy predators,” as Klein, civil and trial attorney, activist and the event’s keynote speaker, said. “They are your favorite teacher, your pediatrician or a coach that can be really nice and grooming you.”

The United States Department of Justice defines child grooming as “a method used by offenders that involves building trust with a child… in an effort to gain access to them,” but it can be applied to young adults, as well. “We have to believe our kids,” Carla Clanagan said.

 “The conversations on [abuse and grooming] I think, really need to happen- especially on college campuses,” Klein said in a separate interview.

Resource disclaimers are in every public bathroom. Photo by Siani Nunez.

Klein is Larry Nassar, former Olympic doctor’s, first-known victim, a sexual abuse survivor herself. “The perpetrator is almost never the scary, big man wearing a trenchcoat walking around the playground- [they] are typically kind, supportive people who use language to build you up- to make you feel good about yourself- and engage in a trusting relationship with you,” Klein said. Be cautious and trust your intuition when coming into contact with individuals like this.

“I was so little when it happened, that I never developed a sense of self,” Klein said about her abuse, training with Nassar and coach John Geddert. She explains that those experiences are why she calls her story “one of survival…[and] my style of lawyering is of love.”

Klein was awarded with The Jordan Center Award for Resilience and Advocacy, much to her surprise. “I appreciate this more than the ESPYS award,” Klein said to a laughing, applauding audience.

The pandemic, Hackett says, has made domestic abuse even more prevalent, as people are forced to stay home with their abusers “24/7”. “If people don’t realize the magnitude of that… [that] is the reason why [speakers] speak outwardly toward the community,” Hackett said.

It’s really empowering to educate yourself on domestic abuse. You will learn how to protect yourself. You will gain the insight to see the warning signs from your partner or someone close to you. 

Most importantly, though, you will build a community that empowers survivors. 

Cabrini University is here to support you. If you have been affected by domestic abuse, sexual assault or dating violence, there are resources on campus. Contact The Jordan Center, Counseling Center and Public Safety for more information. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Siani Nunez

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap