Two social media accounts emerged on Instagram early in August, offering Westminster College students the opportunity to share their stories dealing with sexual assault on campus. The stories are shared anonymously by page organizers, who say their goal is to provide a safe space to find solidarity.
The two accounts — @WestminstersaAdvocacy and @WestminsterSurvivors — were made in collaboration. However, the pages provide separate resources that focus on different goals.
“It got started because we realized that we needed that space, a safe space for survivors to tell their story if they wanted to,” said Nina Eldredge, a senior psychology major.
Eldredge, along with senior nursing major Tallya Llewelyn, said they co-created the Westminster Advocacy page to offer sexual assault resources they felt were lacking from the school.
The @WestminstersaAdvocacy page collaborates with the Survivors page — although the creator of @WestminsterSurvivors declined to be named in The Forum to maintain anonymity and to ensure privacy for students who share their stories.
Despite the separate goals, the two accounts work together to maintain confidentiality and an opportunity to share experiences with students who aren’t mandatory reporters.
“Our main goal is to provide the education, the missing pieces essentially that Westminster doesn’t have,” Llewelyn said. “We get the education, but it’s not adequate. It’s not informative enough, people aren’t grasping it.”
Llewelyn and Eldredge said they created the accounts after taking courses on Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) nursing and other classes on sexual assault. During a conversation, the two said they noticed a substantial amount of sexual assault on campus — paired with a lack of resources for survivors.
“As a female, I don’t think I have a single friend that hasn’t been assaulted,” Llewelyn said. “In some shape or form.”
“Yep,” Eldredge said. “Same.”
“That’s not okay,” Llewelyn said. “That should not be a normal thing. The fact that it is and nobody knows what to do about it breaks my heart.”
As a former resident adviser, Llewelyn said she spent time on campus as a mandatory reporter. However, she said this came with a sense of fear because she didn’t feel prepared to handle those situations.
I think it’s scary that someone else can go tell your story and they might tell it wrong.Tallya Llewelyn, senior nursing major
Through the Instagram accounts, the organizers said they provide a survey link where students can anonymously share their stories. That way, the victim and perpetrators are not named in stories, according to Eldredge.
It also allows for students to control their story without risking warped details through the reporting process.
“I think it’s scary that someone else can go tell your story and they might tell it wrong,” Llewelyn said.
The two organizers said they wanted to focus the Westminster Advocacy page on providing those missing resources — educating the community on what to do if a student or someone they know is assaulted.
Eventually, Eldredge and Llewelyn said they would like to see their research and work form an on-campus club that changes the way assault is dealt with and perceived at Westminster.
“We stand together, we’re here for you,” Llewelyn said. “I want people to feel comfortable sharing our account. Because the more people we can reach, the more we can do for our community.”