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Boston City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley has long described herself as a survivor of sexual assault. But during a City Council meeting Wednesday, she said she was raped while studying at Boston University.
"I actually didn't know I was going to say it," she told WBUR's Bob Oakes during Morning Edition Thursday. "But I'm glad that I did."
Pressley is holding a hearing next month about sexual assault on college campuses in hopes of changing university policies, "so that our campuses are safe and these offenders are held accountable for these egregious and vile acts. You just never get over it. I'm not over it," she said.
Pressley was 19 when she was raped. She says that most survivors of sexual assault were raped while in college. "What happened to me could have happened anywhere on any college campus. And it fact, it does," she said.
Pressley would not say whether she reported the rape and how Boston University handled the situation.
"It's really not about the specifics and the particulars about my experience," she said. "I just wanted to put a face to the issue for the millions of women who suffer in silence."
Pressley says it's important to examine campus policies on rape. She thinks it's imperative that colleges foster an environment where students feel comfortable coming forward.
"Unfortunately I don't have the monopoly on this sort of violation," she said. "There are many, many women suffering in silence. And I'm speaking up for them today."
In a separate interview, fellow Councilor Felix Arroyo says the council's attorneys are looking into what legislation the council can pass about the issue. He's also asking colleges to pledge to have a counselor available and notify students of their rights — including that they can report sexual assault and rape to the police.
"We also want the victim here to be told what their rights are, what they can do with their story, what they can do with their claim, and allow them to make decisions (about) how zealously do they want to pursue this," Arroyo said.
This program aired on March 31, 2011.
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