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UVA Student Shares Story on Blog to Help Other Rape Victims - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Student Shares Story on Blog to Help Other Rape Victims

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A University of Virginia student is speaking out after she says she was raped. Now, she's hoping her story will help other victims.

Annie Forrest was just diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She says she was raped in October of last year. Forrest is packing up to go home after a difficult semester at UVA, not because of her school work as a double major, or volunteering with Madison House and Campus Ministries, but rather to come to grips with what happened to her on October 16, 2011.

"After repeatedly saying no, I don't do this, I'm not going to, please stop, I was held down and raped and it's one of those times where you feel so helpless and so out of control of your own body that it almost feels like an out-of-body experience," said Forrest.

In that moment of shock, Forrest says she heard her attacker say, "Don't try to stop this...we both know it's going to happen." She posted a photo of herself holding a sign with those words on Project Unbreakable, a blog where other victims of sexual assault have shared the words of their attackers.

"And honestly, it's terrible to say but it was easier to submit to it than to fight back at one point because I just wanted it to be over," said Forrest.

Rebecca Weybright, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA), says those words underscore the importance of educating young women and men about consent.

"He wasn't addressing it as rape. But he took something away from her, he committed a crime against her," said Weybright.

UVA police dealt with 26 forcible sex offenses in 2011, but Forrest's wasn't one of them. She didn't report the crime or tell anyone her story until seven months later, when all evidence of the crime had disappeared.

"The evidence is really the critical piece about reporting right away, because in a short period of time that evidence is going to be lost so that makes it much harder to prosecute," said Weybright.

Weybright says education is key, and Forrest agrees.

"I think there's a real lack of education on what sexual assault is because, had I known the correct definition, I would have been able to tell myself that's what it was at the time," said Forest.

That's why she's sharing her story with Project Unbreakable. She says it's her way of fighting back and sending a message of strength to other victims.

"You're not alone. And it's so hard to tell people what you've gone through. But it's important...It's important," said Forrest.

Since sharing her story and the photograph on Facebook, Forrest says she has gotten an outpouring of support, and 25 people have reached out to her to share that they too are victims of sexual assault.

Forrest says despite what she has suffered, this experience helped her find her calling. She's now a women's studies major at UVA, and plans to dedicate her life to fighting for women's rights.

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