UNC Charlotte sophomore Hailey Collins teamed with her friend, Emily Williams, to help survivors of sexual assault on or off campus via Our Story, a sexual assault awareness project and initiative.
Our Story was designed to not only spread awareness about sexual assault but support and empower survivors. It serves as an online blog dedicated to providing opportunities for survivors to share their story publicly or privately, connect with others and gain access to necessary resources.
“There are many times that when people go through traumatic situations, they don’t have support or they don’t know whom to reach out to,” said Collins. “It’s terrifying and you should not feel afraid. You should be able to reach out to someone.”
The blog received substantial growth last October after Collins posted a mass message among her peers reaching out to those in need. She was shocked to have received several positive comments and feedback after deciding to post her story in hopes to connect and help others.
“I want to stand up for people that don’t have support. Being a victim myself and going through those emotions and realizations that somebody could do this, is something hard to wrap your mind around. It happens too often in our society. I couldn’t sit and not do anything. I wanted to change this. I wanted to at least put in an effort to change this and help people,” continued Collins.
Collins is a leader in the university’s Health Systems and Management department, board member of Yesplus meditation club and member of National Residence Hall Honorary. She is currently majoring in health systems management with a minor in women and genders studies. She is originally from Connecticut, where she met Williams. Williams resides in Connecticut, where she promotes and progresses the growth and impact of Our Story.
“I have seen multiple people stand up, ready to fight because of these stories,” said Williams. “Our goal is to reach a viral, mass audience because, unfortunately, there are many more stories out there untold. We provide a hand and voice to those in need.”
The Our Story blog posts stories with writer-approval and maintains all authors as anonymous.
“We keep stories online as anonymous so people can have more strength to have a voice. The stories don’t necessarily need to fully expose survivors, but it’s empowering them, and that is our goal,” said Collins.
For more information on Our Story, visit https://ourstorysa.wordpress.com/about/
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, the Counseling Center and Center for Wellness Promotion are two confidential resources on campus. You can receive various areas of support through http://wellness.uncc.edu/interpersonal-violence/how-get-help.