Letter from Orly Greenberg, 34th Street Editor-in-Chief
34th Street Magazine's “End the Silence: Sexual Assault Survivors at Penn Share Their Stories,” is an issue entirely comprised of survivors and their testimonies. Some are narratives, some are poems, and all are written by survivors.
For those who felt like there was no way to speak or no one who cared to listen, Street wanted to offer a platform. We’re presenting Penn with the full, honest reality of survivors’ experiences. And there’s no better way to do that than to let them say it themselves.
Make no mistake, these stories will upset you. These are brutal, unflinching, truly horrific testimonies—ones that were difficult to read and compile into a magazine, and perhaps more difficult as an editor to share with the Penn community.
But we would be doing a disservice to all victims—and, in fact, everyone—by not publishing these stories. They’re ugly and hard but they’re true. They’re real. To pretend that assault doesn’t exist, or that it doesn’t exist at Penn, is to be part of the problem.
Our discomfort in reading this material is just a glimpse into the daily life and struggles of a survivor. I urge you to read what you can. I urge you to take on what feels right for you. We’re including warnings on all content, but just to be explicit: this will be graphic, disturbing content that discusses sexual assault and rape in detail.
And still, it’s hard not to find even just a glimmer of hope in these pages. These are survivors who found their voices. These are people brave enough to write down their stories and deliver them to strangers, whether it be for catharsis or to offer insight.
You will find a list of resources at the bottom of each article online, and printed twice in our hard copy on Wednesday. Please note that we will also be present on Wednesday night, 7 – 9 p.m., in The Daily Pennsylvanian office (4015 Walnut Street). We will provide company, food, and hopefully a place to decompress after a difficult day. For those who might need someone to talk to, Penn Benjamins, Penn’s student–run peer counseling group, will be on hand.
For those of you who contributed stories, Street thanks you for your bravery. And for those who wanted to, but weren’t quite ready, or for those who might never be ready, Street too, thanks you for your bravery.
Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed at the bottom of the article.
I lived my life imprisoned by his actions, and he just lived his life.
You told me I deserved it.
Because I was your girlfriend means it was okay, right?
I’m a survivor. But I’ve done more than survive. I’ve architectured my own healing. I’m fighting, and I’m winning. And I refuse to be shamed.
It is not just one night.
I watched a bitter end.
Sometimes I still think it was my fault.
It seemed like my childhood was taken from me all at once.
Sometimes I see him in Van Pelt and have a panic attack.
I have never talked about any of this since it happened.
Like a broken bone, I’ve healed stronger than I used to be.
Rape culture on this campus is perceived as benign.
I was among friends and happy; why should I carve out a moment to appease?
I am still learning how to open myself up.
We prefer our victims weak because we would rather pity them than be intimidated by their indestructible spirits.
I'm a different person because of that night.
It’s such a cliché to blame yourself, but I did.
I felt so hollow.
No one had stopped to say to me that, maybe, it wasn’t just my responsibility to stop and prevent assault from happening.
The HELP Line: 215-898-HELP:
A 24–hour–a–day phone number for members of the Penn community who seek help in navigating Penn's resources for health and wellness.
Counseling and Psychological Services: 215-898-7021 (active 24/7):
The counseling center for the University of Pennsylvania.
Student Health Service: 215-746-3535:
Student Health Service can provide medical evaluations and treatment to victims/survivors of sexual and relationship violence regardless of whether they make a report or seek additional resources. Both male and female providers can perform examinations, discuss testing and treatment of sexually transmissible infections, provide emergency contraception if necessary and arrange for referrals and follow up.
Reach–A–Peer Hotline - 215-573-2727 (every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.):
A peer hotline to provide peer support, information, and referrals to Penn students.
Penn Violence Prevention: 3539 Locust Walk (Office Hours: 9 am – 5 pm), (215) 746-2642, Jessica Mertz (Director of Student Sexual Violence Prevention, Education) firstname.lastname@example.org,
Read the Penn Violence Prevention resource guide.
Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention Team:
A multidisciplinary team at CAPS dedicated to supporting students who have experienced sexual trauma.
Public Safety Special Services:
Trained personnel offer crisis intervention, accompaniment to legal and medical proceedings, options counseling and advocacy, and linkages to other community resources.