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Wagatwe Wanjuki, 27, created the hashtag #survivorprivilege to tell her story about being a victim of sexual assault. The hashtag came out of a response to a Washington Post column written by  George Will that suggested there was no campus rape epidemic and that women were lying about being victims of sexual violence.

Wanjuki told her story of sexual assault to Huffington Post:

Wanjuki’s hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege went on to trend widely among people sharing their experiences as survivors of sexual violence. Their voices became part of awidespread backlash against The Washington Post for publishing Will’s column.

“It was mind-boggling that someone would think there’s anything to gain by coming forward as a survivor,” Wanjuki told The Huffington Post. Survivors face ridicule, attacks and threats, she said, and it’s “just not a pleasant experience.”

Wanjuki first became public as a survivor in 2009, when she was a student at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Wanjuki says she was assaulted multiple times by a fellow Tufts student she was in a relationship with, but when she tried in 2008 to report him for a campus adjudication, the university told her their legal counsel said they didn’t have to take action. This was back before the U.S. Department of Education made it crystal clear in a 2011 Dear Colleague letter that universities had an obligation under Title IX to respond to reported sexual violence.

Wanjuki became vocal about how she believed Tufts mishandled her case and denied her the assistance she was entitled to under the law. She worked with the national group Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) to hold campus demonstrations calling for reforms.

Around the same time, her grades began slipping, though not enough to land her on academic probation. Wanjuki attributes this to the trauma of sexual abuse and a lack of support from the school administration. In summer 2009, the Dean of Undergraduate Education at Tufts, who Wanjuki said happened to be her assailant’s academic adviser, told Wanjuki she would have to withdraw from the university due to academic concerns. At the time, she was less than a year from graduating.

“My confidence was shot,” Wanjuki said. “Tufts was saying I was too stupid to stay there. A big part of my identity was that I was always a good student.”

Wanjuki eventually had to attend a junior college after leaving Tufts, and is now completing a degree at Rutgers.  Now she’s 11 credits shy of her Rutgers degree, but doesn’t have the money to cover her tuition.  On top of paying for Rutgers, she’s still paying off Tufts loans. She has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money she needs. 

“Even if I reach half my goal, it would be a huge help,” Wanjuki said. “My graduation date was supposed to be 2008, so I’ve been in college on and off for about a decade.”

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  • shybookworm

    I just donated. George Will is an ass! I hope he never spends time in prison–he’ll quickly get an (unfortunate) lesson in rape and victimization within 24 hours.

  • Anthony

    I may have to send this woman some money. She certainly had been through the wringer. George Will was never someone with whom I agreed, but he came off as intelligent and reasoned. Like so many conservatives, he has exposed his bare, red ass since Obama was elected. I read that column, and he sounds like a drunk sophomore taking up for his bros.

  • I may donate a couple of dollars. However, it seems like she should have plausible grounds for a lawsuit against the school and the guy who assaulted her. PSU had to pay a great deal in retribution in regards to the cover-up. Therefore, if they knew about the assault and didn’t do due diligence, then they should be held liable. However, assault against women is still not held in the same regard as male minors. As for George Will, he has always shown his true colors although it seems as if he has gotten worse throughout the years.

    • tigerthelion

      “assault against women is still not held in the same regard as male minors. As for George Will, he has always shown his true colors although it seems as if he has gotten worse throughout the years.”
      sexual assault is deplorable regardless of gender but to suggest assault on minors and adults should be in the same category is absurd since minors by definition, haven’t reached the age of consent they require special protection under the law. even among minors, sexual assault on girls is considered more damning than sexual assault on a boys and the penalty is a lot hasher when the victim is female (except when the rapists is a person is color then, equally hash regardless of gender). there are cases in Kansas and California where statutory raped males victims were liable for child support upon reaching age of maturity.

    • “to suggest assault on minors and adults should be in the same category is absurd since minors by definition, haven’t reached the age of consent they require special protection under the law.”

      No, what is absurd is the fact is that sexual assault against women is still not being taken seriously as it should be in this day in age. Rape is rape no matter who it is being done against and it almost always comes down to asserting power over someone else. So, you have to ask yourself, if women are to have more power in the case of consent, then why is this Woman fighting tooth and nail to bring to light sexual assault? Why are victims in some states and jurisdictions charged with paying for their own rape kits? Why are Republicans and some other politicians trying to ban abortion even in the case of rape and sexual assault?

    • tigerthelion

      I agree with you that what happened to this lady was a travesty and no one can deny that but you made the comment that “assault against women is still not held in the same regard as male minors” and that was what I was responding to.
      for society as a whole, there are special protection for women RE: violence against women’s act for instance, and no other group of people have separate protection under the law, including children. so aside from anecdotal evidence, there’s nothing to suggest that society as a whole have little regard for abused women. the evidence simply don’t support it. it could be the issue is that of race, where the protection of black women aren’t as high on the list as that of other women but that’s not the argument you’re making.