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Statewide summit on sexual assault held at MSU

Published On: Aug 12 2013 06:56:28 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

State leaders are meeting at MSU this week to find ways to reduce sex assaults on campuses and in communities. We checked the facts on sexual assaults.

According to the national center for disease control, 331,000 Montanans will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes. We dug into the local numbers and found in 2012 there were 96 reported sexual crimes in Bozeman. Montana State reported two forcible sex assaults, one of them in a residence hall.

The summit this week held at MSU aims to educate, provide training and ultimately help prevent sexual assault. One room at this summit shows the darker side of sexual assault.

We spoke to Ellie Newell. She is a speaker at this summit as well as a survivor of sexual assault herself.

"I was raped as a freshman at a college out of state," said Newell.

We walked around the room with Newell. It is part of a project she helped bring to the summit. All of the people behind the photos are survivors. Newell herself is anonymously featured on one of these walls.

"I feel like it is a call to action. It is supposed to be hard to look at," said Newell.

She told her story at the summit and said it can be exhausting re-living the event. She hopes sharing her story brings more people to do the same.

"I found every time I told it, more people are empowered to tell their own stories," said Newell.

This is the second annual state wide summit, but it is the first one being held at the campus of MSU. Organizers say they hope it continues to be held on the campus.

Joe Thiel is a graduate of MSU and helped organize this event.

"We are going to have resident assistants here, we are going to have the first people who interact with freshman at MSU, at this summit," said Theil.

He wants the community to become more aware of how common sexual assault is.

"There are victims and there are perpetrators on all of our campuses," said Theil.

For Newell she shares in her desire to spread awareness.

"One in four women survive attempted or completed rape during their college experience, that is a hard fact and its really hard to confront that," said Newell.

The summit will continue on Tuesday at MSU. Student leaders and administrators who represent Montana universities, colleges, tribal colleges, and high schools will look at ways to reduce sexual violence.