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Sexual assault survivors share their stories at annual event in South Tucson

Sexual assault survivors share their stories at annual event in South Tucson
Posted at 10:36 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 11:50:55-04

SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. — “I went to college and, this is a hard thing to talk about,” Emiliya Dale, sexual assault survivor.

Emiliya Dale was sexually assaulted in her first and last year of studying at the University of Arizona.

“It’s sad and nobody wants to hear that from somebody they know or haven’t interacted with," Dale said. "It’s affected way more women and men than we think.”

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, one of every six women in the U.S. has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. That’s why Dale decided to share her story at the sexual assault awareness event on Tuesday.

RELATED: South Tucson's Take Back the Night brings awareness to sexual assault

“Telling stories bonds people because people have similar experiences so if we can talk about those without any judgement, we can really create change,” Dale said.

Pima County’s Sexual Assault Response Team organizes this event every year in South Tucson. 23% of the city is Native American, a group at the greatest risk of sexual violence.

“We work together to help educate the public, to spread awareness and to support survivors,” said Dawn Armstrong, Founder of Think Safe.

Dawn Armstrong is a sexual assault survivor and the founder of Think Safe, an organization that teaches habits of awareness and self defense tactics. It’s one of 17 organizations that came to provide sexual assault resources and support. They’re all working to lessen the prevalence of these crimes in our community.

RELATED: Free self-defense classes offered for LGBTQ community at Tucson martial arts school

“You live in a city, you walk on a street, you're harassed," Armstrong said. "And I’ve lived in a lot of big cities and it was a part of life but it doesn’t have to be.”

Armstrong usually does training for older adults but this summer she’s gearing her training towards college and high school students.

Think Safe upcoming events
Think Safe upcoming events

The following groups were at the Take Back the Night Event, and have resources for sexual assault survivors:

  • University of Arizona Consortium on Gender-based Violence
  • YWCA
  • Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault
  • Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation
  • Arizona Youth Partnership’s Starting Out Right Program
  • Tohono O’odham Community College
  • University of Arizona Southwest Institute for Research on Women
  • Culture of Peace Alliance
  • Homicide Survivors
  • Tucson Youth and Peace
  • ThinkSafe Seminars
  • Goodwill Metro/REC
  • PPEP, Inc.
  • STOPIT coalition
  • D-W McGarrity
  • Pascua Yaqui Survivor Advocate Team
  • University of Arizona Survivor Advocate Team

Perla Shaheen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Perla graduated in May 2020 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in Political Science. Share your story ideas and important issues with Perla by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.