Chessy Prout, survivor of the St. Paul’s School sexual assault, has launched an extremely powerful social media campaign

People often wonder why the majority of sexual assault victims don’t come forward. And if they wait to press charges, many people are convinced the delay is damning evidence that they’re lying. Case in point — the high-profile St. Paul’s case, which went to trial last summer. The victim, who publicly identified herself as Chessy Prout in a Today show interview on August 30, waited almost one week before telling friends, family, and police about the assault.

Prout’s attacker, Owen Labrie, was convicted of sexual assault, but acquitted of the more serious rape charge. And despite the fact that waiting to speak up is extremely common for survivors, Owen Labrie’s defense attorney harped on it throughout the trial. Prout was on the witness stand for three days, and she recalled on the Today show that Labrie’s attorney asked her why she was so “hazy” in the days after her assault. “I looked at [him] in disbelief and said, ‘I was raped!’” Prout told Savannah Guthrie.

During Labrie’s trial last summer, Prout remained anonymous and news footage disguised her voice when playing audio of her testimony. Still, she faced intense backlash on the Internet — nauseating comments under online news stories slammed her and accused her of “crying rape” because she regretted having sex with Labrie.

People who had never met her called her a “liar” (and worse), and brought up the fact that she came from a wealthy family — despite the fact that her financial situation had absolutely nothing to do with the charges. Disturbing message boards popped up, revealing her name and her family’s home address. This makes it all the more admirable that she has chosen to publicly speak out, identifying her name and face.

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