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Sexual assault survivor Rachel Wilson discusses life after going public with her story

Rachel Wilson drinks tea in her apartment as she discusses how her life has changed the last couple months.

On Oct. 11, Central Michigan Life published the story of first-year graduate student and sexual assault survivor, Rachel Wilson. 

The case against former Student Government Association President Ian Elliott, who is accused of sexually assaulting her, was dismissed in April 2018 by interim prosecutor Robert Holmes. However, Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a motion in Isabella County to reinstate the charges against Elliott on Oct. 31.

Now, after nearly two months have passed, Wilson talks about going public with her story.

How has your life changed since the article came out?

Wilson: Well, at first the most overwhelming part was all of the responses. Not in a bad way, it was just a lot to see how many people were touched by this and how many had experienced similar things. It was kind of weighing on me. And then I heard that the case was being looked into again, and I feel almost a sense of peace about it, no matter how things turn out. People heard my story and I feel like it's brought a lot of people together. It's made me feel less alone. I feel like there's a lot of good people sticking up for me, and I feel like I've won in a sense already.

What responses did you get after the article was published?

My Facebook Messenger blew up with amazing responses and I got a lot of emails. I was thinking at least one person would be mean, but I haven't gotten even one response that has hurt my feelings. I haven't even answered some of them yet because I want to wait until I feel a little stronger. (Some people) have shared their own stories of sexual assault with me, and I really really care about them and feel overwhelmed when I read their stories. I've even gotten responses from parents saying things like, "My daughter's case was dropped too, we're rooting for you, your fight is her fight." That was a heartbreaking one, but it made me feel like I'm really doing something good, not just for myself but for people who have also lost a lot of hope.

What advice would you give to other survivors who are contemplating going forward with their stories?

Based on my experience, it has been so helpful. For the longest time, I felt like I didn't want to tell a lot of people because of how sensitive it is to talk about. But when you hold it in, it's isolating. When you're the only one carrying this on your shoulders, you kind of feel like you're on an island. No one has any idea about the worry and thoughts on your mind, but when you share it, you realize a lot of people will understand. I feel like my life has changed so much (since the article), but when I really look at things, the only thing that's changed is a feel a lot better about everything now. I feel like I've finally started to heal, and it's taken almost three years.

If you could do it over again, would you still want to go public with your story?

Yeah, definitely, I would. But if someone is thinking about (going public), just be ready. Once it's out, it's out.