April is Sexual Assault Awareness (SAAM) month. SAAM is about creating a movement to eradicate sexual assault and harassment, while providing support to survivors. While we are not able to gather in person this April, we can still support the survivors on campus and in our lives. Below are messages of support from community members all over campus to survivors of sexual misconduct.
To the survivors visiting this page: we see you, we support you and you are not alone.
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher
Thank you for your tremendous courage. Your voice—and your story—is important, and our Pitt community is proud to stand by your side in solidarity and support.
I believe you. I am here to support you. I stand in solidarity with you and will use my privilege to help eradicate sexual assault, harassment, and fight for justice. May your courage strengthen your resolve.
Katherine Hornbostel, Assistant Professor in MEMS, she/her
I will always believe you because I've been in your shoes before. It hurts like hell and your suffering is valid. My best advice is to let yourself feel your feelings rather than numbing them. Also find a trained therapist who can help you work through this. It's incredibly unfair that someone did this to you, but I promise you will get through this and become a better version of yourself after journeying through your recovery. Much love!
Amanda Godley, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, she/her/hers
You are a very important part of the Pitt community and we are here for you. Your courage is a source of hope and strength to many others. I see you and stand in solidarity with you.
Kailey Andrew, MSW student, She/Her/Hers
You are not alone, and things will get better. You CAN survive this. Reach out before you think you need help.
You are resilient
Parker, Undergraduate Student, (They/Them)
As a survivor, I can assure you that things do get better. Even after a traumatic event we know that the effects can carry on for a long time. Please do not give up hope! What has happened to you is not your fault and does not define you or your future.
Carly, Pitt Undergraduate Student
You are seen. You have value. You matter. Yes, some sexual assault is easily recognizable, but other times it takes time to realize what happened wasn't okay. Even if it takes years to realize what happened to you was sexual assault, you are not to blame and time passing does not make it okay. No matter what your scenario, it wasn't your fault.
Shelley M. (she, her, hers)
You are believed, supported and loved!
You and your story are valid no matter how many people try to tell you otherwise.
You are stronger than the person who has inflicted harm, physical, mental or both. You are a survivor and there is a reason for that. Stay strong, be healthy and know you are cared about. If help is needed, please reach out. There are people who care and know this should not happen to anyone. You are not alone.
Cynthia McCarthy, Adjunct Faculty
You are seen and you are heard. Events of the past do not define who you are. Love yourself and allow yourself to be defined as the courageous, beautiful warrior you are.
Rhonda F. (she/her/hers)
You deserve honest, respectful, safe love and relationships. I hope for nothing less as you continue on your healing, survivorship journey. Peace, Love and blessings to all.
We believe you. There are always people that believe you.
Ashley Yarabinec (she/her)
I believe you. It's never too late to tell someone. You can overcome the pain with the help of professionals. Life. WILL. Get. Easier. The beautiful lotus flower cannot bloom without mud. Likewise, we cannot blossom without trudging through the mess of our past - but when we do, we bloom into the most beautiful versions of ourselves. And it's worth it.
I believe you. We believe you. Words cannot express how strong and courageous you are, even if it doesn't feel like it. You shine so unbelievably bright and know that you are still you. No one has the power to take that from you. You are loved. And you are here.
Stuthi, SAFE Peer Educator, She/Her/Hers
I want you know to that I believe you, that I support you, and that I can't even begin to understand what you've been through, but I want the best for you.
Travon Erwin-Toney, Program Coordinator Fraternity and Sorority Life; He, Him, His
Please know you have support around you when you are ready.
Jess Townsend, Pre-Award Administrator, she/her
I believe you. You are not alone.
Pitt Undergraduate Student
You are valuable and your experiences are valid. None of them are your fault, at all. You are never alone.
Chris Prouty, Lecturer of Media Studies, He/His/Him
I thank you. I am blessed to have brave, warrior spirits in my life--like you. Creative people that have endured and survived so much. You inspire me to be a better man, better father, and better teacher. Thank you for your strength, grit, and love.
Anna Shaw (they/them) University Counseling Center Intern and MSW Student (2021)
I am sending absolutely all of my love to survivors. You deserve support, rest, kindness, gentleness, care, nourishment and love. I am sorry that our world can be so hostile to and uncaring toward survivors sometimes. Please know that there are so many people who care and know how sacred your healing is. There is so much hope even when it feels like none can be found.
Take the time you need to process and find yourself again, whatever that may look like. Be gentle with yourself. From one survivor to another, stay strong and remember support and love are out there.
Ashley Shafer, PhD Student School of Education, she/her
I am here for you and I believe you. Your feelings and experiences are valid. You are not alone. Your Pitt community is here for you.
Hunter, Resident Director, he/him
As our white supremacist, heteropatriarchal US society tries to erase survivors at every turn, please know that you are important and loved, and you make Pitt a better place by being here. I believe each and every survivor. You matter to me.
To all survivors out there I just want to say that wherever you are in the recovery process is exactly where you're supposed to be. Recovery is never linear, it takes time and patience and can be incredibly frustrating at times. Just remember to be kind to yourself as you work on healing and moving forward. There is no "right" way to respond to trauma, the most important thing is to listen to your body and take care of your basic needs. You are strong, you are brave, and you are worthy of all the love in the world. Remember to ask for help when you need it because no one can go through it alone. I believe in you and I'm proud of everything you've already achieved and everything you will continue to achieve.
Lexie Elliott, Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, she/her/hers
You are courageous. You are brave. You are strong. I stand in solidarity with you.
The Center for Women's Health Research and Innovation (CWHRI)
The Center for Women's Health Research joins countless others in recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month and stands with survivors everywhere in calling for justice.
You are loved.
Claire Lapat, President of Unmuted and junior microbiology major, she/her/hers
I believe you. Regardless of gender identity, sexuality, race, religion, etc. I believe you regardless of how much you remember. I believe you regardless if you were drunk and/or high. I believe you, regardless of if you had a previous relationship with the other person. I believe you, regardless if you reported it or not. You are strong and you are loved. If you would like more resources, please reach out to Unmuted!
Haley Brechwald, student, she/her
As a survivor and ally of all sexual assault survivors, know that you are not alone, you are brave, and you are not defined by what has happened to you.
Maggie Benson, MD (she/her)
Sending a very sincere note of support to all survivors. Wishing you strength and confidence today and every day. Know there are many who believe you.
You are believed supported and cared for. No admission of your pain is too small. I will believe you.
Carrie Benson, She/Her, Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator
Your experience matters. You matter. I am here to support you.
Omid Fotuhi, Research Associate, He/His/Him
Sexual assault is NEVER the survivor’s fault. I am hoping to learn how to be better support those affected by helping to raise awareness about this prevalence and consequences of sexual assault, and to offer support in any way I can. You are not alone, you are not at fault, and together, I hope we can make things better for others.
To anyone who has endured physical, verbal, or emotional sexual violence--you are not alone in healing from this trauma. I am so sorry that you suffered this. Allow yourself to let go of any feelings of guilt or embarrassment. Your feelings of pain, anger, grief are valid but a survivor is guilty of nothing. You can heal your wounds into fading scars, but offenders can never undo their horrific actions--they will live with that forever. It took me decades to name the crimes--sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape--and begin to process and heal. Don't wait that long. All you have to do is tell one person and ask for help. Report the crime--if not to get justice for yourself, to spare the next person from this trauma. They violated you, but they can never take away your dignity. You have all the power transform your pain into resolve for justice. You've got this.
Sydney Rinderknecht, she/her
I believe you. I hear you. I support you. What happened was not your fault in ANY way. You did not deserve what happened to you. You are not alone. We all can do better to support survivors of assault because surviving is the bare minimum.
It is in no way, shape, or form your fault! You are not alone in this.
You are Braver, Stronger, Smarter, and more Loved then you could ever imagine. No one can take away your value or self worth. You are beautiful!
Dr. Daniel Jacobson López, Chair of Diversity of UPPDA and Postdoctoral Associate, Pitt Public Health
I am honored to write this message to you – in honor of your strength, bravery, resiliency, and courage. Es para cada uno de ustedes. I hope that each and everyone of you knows that 1) you are believed 2) you are not to blame for anything that happened to you and 3) you deserve and will find happiness. Our society fails to understand your pain, to validate your experiences and to recognize your strength. I am here to let you know that I will always continue to fight and defend you. You are the reason I wake up in the morning and do everything I do; you are the reason for my research, my practice and my advocacy. My research is focused on gay Black and Latino sexual assault survivors. I want to give special recognition to Black and Brown and/or LGBT survivors of color. I know that you encounter additional challenges are may seem forgotten in the fight for justice. You are not. I and many others fight every day for you and will continue to do so. I will be here when you feel weak and to remind you of that inner strength that nobody can take from you. If you take anything away from this, please know that there are many people who do believe you and that you are deserving of happiness. Your pain is validated and your courage will be one of your greatest strengths. You are deserving of a loving relationship and of happiness. Continue to find your peace and happiness. I will be there for you while you find it. Daj57@pitt.edu. Your stories, strength and bravery constantly inspire me. I thank you for your strength and for being a fighter. I will always be here if you ever need. With compassion, empathy, respect and strength, I stand by you and commend you for your individual value and fortitude. Don’t lose hope in finding your peace, justice, and happiness. I know you will. With much love and respect. Amor y respeto.
Suchita Kumar, Nutritional Health Vice Chair, she/her
Your past does not define you - what you choose to do from here on out does. Know that you are strong, beautiful, & loved and will go on to do amazing things.
The Writing Center
We abhor the violence that interrupts students' lives and academic experiences. We stand with you as allies in the fight against sexual assault, and in our continued efforts to create a compassionate space for survivors and their stories. You are not alone.
1 in 4
One in 4 women becomes a victim of abuse. That is one too many. For those who have been victimized, please know you are not alone. You are loved and your are valued and you matter. You are enough. You are worthy of and deserving of love. If you have been victimized, seek help. Its a huge burden to carry alone. If you have not been victimized, look around you because someone you know and love has been. Look for signs and be an ally. None of us can shoulder this alone.