College forbid student to share MST story at anti-rape event, college says MST is “too controversial”


My University holds a Take Back the Night ceremony every April to talk about sexual awareness in our community. I submitted my story to the Take Back the Night committee on campus to be considered to be a speaker. The committee composed of students and counselors at the Counseling center that was putting the event together. I was told by the committee that because I was raped in the military and because of the high percentage of Active Duty members and veterans on campus that they won’t be able to allow me to speak. They said that what I went through in the military may offend others. They felt MST was too controversial. The students in the committee advocated for me but the permanent staff on campus overruled them.

Many of my friends and classmates came to my side but by then it were too late since Take Back the Night came and went.

The following year when it was time for Take Back the Night my University not wanting to cause the uproar that it did the previous year decided to include Military Sexual Trauma to the event’s agenda. Instead of allowing a veteran or two to share their personal stories, they felt that it was best to bring a non-veteran employee from the VA to share with the University community the little she knows about MST. The presenter even admitted that she does not directly work with veterans with Military Sexual Trauma but she oversees the entire department for women and “some may have MST.” When asked how MST is different than civilian rape she could not answer. If they wanted a professional view on MST instead of a survivor’s story they should at least have brought in the MST program coordinator at the VA or a speaker from MRCC!

Take Back the Night Foundation has been contacted and they did a Public Relation spin on this matter refusing to make the University accountable for misusing and abusing Take Back the Night name and Logo to silence survivors of military sexual trauma.

This was at University of Massachusetts in Boston.

post has been edited since original posting as per the writer’s request

9 thoughts on “College forbid student to share MST story at anti-rape event, college says MST is “too controversial”

  1. If your college receives any money from the DOD such as through an ROTC program or sponsorship then I can certainly see them doing such a thing. Luckily survivors have MDTS and other places to use their constitutional rights that they defended. Thanks for speaking out.

  2. “They said that what I went through in the military may offend others.”

    I am OFFENDED by your school by not allowing a veteran to speak about being raped. The only thing of controversy here is that your university forbid a veteran and a rape survivor from speaking.

    On the bright side you probably have a larger audience on this website alone (not counting all those facebook and other social media that are picking this up and sharing it with their contacts) than you would have gotten from TBTN. This was on the news last night and on here today. Good!

  3. I am filled with so many emotions when I read your comments, sadness, anger, disappointment, astoundment. You haven’t shared the name of your University. I very much want to know so that those responsible might be held accountable.
    As a female veteran and long time advocate for greater public awareness on this issue, I’ve been speaking on the issue of MST for nearly 8 years in and around the Greater Los Angeles Area. At least once every year I meet someone who has suffered quietly for decades because she thought she was alone with this issue.
    Shame on them.
    Thank you for your bravery!

  4. My problem with her college is two-fold:

    1. Obviously I am angry that she was forbidden to speak. All rapes are horrible. What exactly makes one rape less offensive than the other? There aren’t specific rape categories All rapes are bad but should be spoken about to help the survivor heal and to bring light to the problem.

    2. What exactly was the school thinking about bring a non-veteran to speak about veterans issues? That is like having Paris Hilton talk about how it feels like to be homeless.

    I am a strong believer to give all oppressed groups the right to speak and not have the white, college educated, spokesperson that was born with a silver spoon in their mouth tell the world how it feels like to be oppressed. If you never served keep your mouth shut.

    If this happened to any other oppressed group the nation would be in uproar. Heck, right now women are rightfully angry that their decisions about their reproductive healthcare are being debated by men. A good friend of mine is talking about attending the million-women march in DC next month. Why aren’t veterans angry that their voices are being silenced or overrun by non-veterans? Men can not speak or make decisions for women. The rich should not speak for the poor and non-veterans should not speak for vets.

    that is all that I have to say. Agree or disagree?

  5. Dear Anonymous,
    The TBTN Foundation supports each and every survivor, no matter who the survivor is, who committed the sexual violence or where it happened.

    Unfortunately, our Foundation is a small group of volunteers. We don’t have the human power at this time to work on all the situations we so desperately would like to see addressed. The silencing of victims has been a world wide experience for many for hundreds of years. We have much work to do, and need the support of each of you to take action when you feel there is injustice.

    We are our own best, most poised, most passion-inspiring advocates. While we wish we could do more, we cannot at this time. But don’t waste time with criticizing your supporters. Spend your energy on the direct source of your frustration.

    Shatter the Silence!
    The Take Back The Night Foundation and TBTN Supporters

    1. The anger your reply leaves me in is the same excuses used when I was assaulted in the military. So many times the excuse is for the strength of the military and we are the sacrificial lambs. To not allow us to speak is giving them power. To audit and ignore a victim and a very large class of victims because this strong organization cannot handle it is a horendous diservice!

    2. This reply is utterly irresponsible and cowardly.

      TBTN is actually failing to help someone speak out because of staff size? How many staff members does it take to tell the victim’s university you are displeased with their actions?

      If this is the general response of your organization towards people who come to you for help then you are all complete frauds.

      You don’t tell someone you can’t help them when you are allowing their university to use your foundation’s program, brand, logo, whatever.

      You also aren’t helping anyone by reminding the person that “others have been silenced too for hundreds of years” Isn’t the point of your organization to address that problem?

      Your smug “help us by helping yourself” comment at the end was disgusting.This person took action when she felt silenced. She went to her school and she contacted your organization for help. Both of you failed to help her and have contributed to the silencing of a sexual assault victim.

      I will forward your BS response to all my friends and make sure we get the word out that you are nothing more than pretend organization with no true desire to empower victims.

  6. UMass, no surprise they wouldn’t support you. I was in the Boston area, dealt with their notions of veterans’ programs. It’s horrible. I never got any results trying to deal with any aspects of maltreatment of veterans in Massachusetts. The officials who are supposed to help just exploit us. All I can say for now is that it’s not only you. I’m not sure how that helps, but the more we make noise, the more we can chip away at the obstacles. I’m still getting my life back after being put through the wringer at the VA, hope to start making contact with other survivors soon. If you’re still in Massachusetts, you can see about getting Mass Health to access medical and mental health services where you won’t be victimized again. Hint, when I made my second application through a hospital (BMC) instead of on my own, it went right through.

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