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Similarities between fiction nightmare and reality

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, Elisa Baptista ‘21, Pia Cortes-Guerrero ‘22, Makayla Glenn ‘22, Francesca Suarez ‘21 and Claudia Travieso ‘22

Cleveland Plain Dealer investigative journalist Rachel Dissell visited Carrollton’s upper school after the community read “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman, comparing it to her work on the Steubenville rape case.

“Beartown” was chosen because of the critical nature of raising awareness about sexual assault. In an anonymous follow up survey, one student said, “I thought it was going to be a [talk about how] women need to speak up and not be oppressed, but it wasn’t. It was very informative.”

Dissell discussed the importance of collecting and testing evidence after an alleged rape to confirm allegations, then prosecute and convict rapists. She said that many rapists do not stop after assaulting one person.  In one case, a young woman told authorities that she had been raped, and they did not believe her. The rapist continued raping and killing women for many years. If the authorities had believed the victim, and performed a thorough investigation, they could have saved many more women from becoming victims.

In recent years, there has been more attention paid to sexual assault, prevention and consequences. The #MeToo Movement is a prime example where sexual assault victims, the majority of which are women, are tired of being silenced and are taking a stand against their assaulters. According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center’s statistics, “One in five women will be raped at some point in their lives and 91 percent of rape and assault victims are women.”

While answering the question about how a person can prevent sexual assault or domestic violence, Dissell says, “Things like this can happen anywhere; a way you can prevent it is by using the buddy system.” Following her talk, students and faculty met in groups to discuss “Beartown,” Steubenville and how Carrollton community members can stay safe. One student responded to the survey writing, “…we can all be advocates for justice and change and have the power to make a difference.”

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