Survivor shares sexual assault experience, education


Jason Howell

Angela Rose, a victim of sexual assault, tells her story during an open forum on Wednesday in the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. Rose was abducted from the Woodfield Shopping Mall and subsequently assaulted. At first authorities did not believe her story but eventually the man who assaulted her, who had a long rap sheet, was caught.

Stephanie Markham, News Editor

When a 17-year-old Angela Rose realized someone was following her about 10 feet away, her face turned bright red. She figured he probably heard her singing aloud to herself, so she felt embarrassed.

As it turned out, the man had been stalking Rose as she worked in a small boutique in the mall. She was on her way home for the day, looking forward to attending a graduation party later on.

As she reached to put her keys in the car, the man grabbed her. Rose was then kidnapped and sexually assaulted.

Rose shared her experience of surviving the assault and turning her anger into activism with the Eastern community Monday during her lecture, “Shattering the Silence of Sexual Violence.”

Rose’s account of the precise details of her attack to the police helped to put her perpetrator, a man who had previously kidnapped, raped and murdered a 15-year-old girl, behind bars.

Though the man had blinded Rose with bandages and sunglasses, she said she had a slight field of view from the sides of her eyes.

“I made a conscious decision; I said, ‘If I get out of this situation alive, he is not going to get away with it,” Rose said.

And he didn’t.

However, Rose’s experience with the authorities was far from comforting.

Rose said the detectives who initially interviewed her were judging her based on their idea of what a victim should be, and because she wasn’t bawling, they assumed she wasn’t really assaulted.

One point of her discussion was that everyone responds to trauma differently.

“I wasn’t crying in the police station,” Rose said. “I’m Italian; I was mad. Yes, I had my tears over the years, but in the police station I was furious.”

She said one detective walked in with his arms folded, and after hearing her detailed account of what happened, he asked if she was lying.

Eventually, two new detectives were put on the case who reassured her that they had no reason not to believe her.

Rose said one of the myths associated with sexual assault is that the victims are making up their stories for malicious reasons.

While that does happen, the rate of fabricated sexual assault reports is 2 percent, the same rate as any other crime, Rose said.

“More people false report their death for insurance than false report sexual assault,” she said.

Other myths are that perpetrators are always strangers in dark alleys, and that sexual assault only happens to women by men, Rose said.

Despite these myths, one-in-four girls and one-in-six boys will be sexually assaulted by age 18, and less than 15 percent of perpetrators are strangers to the victim, according to Rose’s presentation.

Rose also outlined some issues associated with sexual assault, including victim blaming.

She said she experienced this when she was asked what she was wearing in court.

“If you’re looking at different robbery cases in court, you’re not going to hear, ‘Well Mr. Jones, why were you wearing that expensive Armani suit when you were walking around in the street?’” Rose said.

Rose also provided tips on how to help a friend who has been victimized, such as assuring them the assault was not their fault.

Mila Jusubovaite, a sophomore business major and the vice president of the women’s empowerment league, said she found that aspect of Rose’s presentation insightful.

“I was never sexually assaulted, but I know a few people that have, and I always felt that I was unequipped to help them or to encourage them to get help, so this was really eye opening,” Jusubovaite said.

She also said she is pleased to see the university addressing the issue of sexual assault.

“I was shocked when they said that (President Bill Perry) is the one that sponsored this, but this is really great,” she said.

Erin Walters, the director of Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Services, said any instance of someone taking action to increase awareness is a step in the right direction.

Jackie Hines, the associate director of sexual assault prevention in the counseling center, said one goal of bringing the speaker to campus was to inform students of the issues at a time other than awareness month in April.

“These first couple months of school are really when students are at greatest risk, where there’s more incidents of sexual violence,” she said.

Hines said the Sexual Assault Taskforce would create a subcommittee to work toward setting up a chapter of Rose’s organization, Promoting Awareness | Victim Empowerment, at Eastern.

Rose started PAVE at the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2001, and now it is a national organization that educates the public and lobbies the government about relevant legislation.

Although Rose said she would not wish her experience on anyone, she said she would also not change what happened to her because she has learned so much about herself.

She said she even learned how to use forgiveness to expel negative energy.

“We can’t choose what happens to us in life, but we have to remember that we have the power to choose our response,” she said.

Stephanie Markham (@stephm202) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].