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Warner speaks about memoir, surviving sexual assault

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Warner speaks about memoir, surviving sexual assault

Courtesy of Hugo Fernandez

Courtesy of Hugo Fernandez

Courtesy of Hugo Fernandez

On Sept. 24, Guilford College students were given the inspiring opportunity to meet Ashley Warner, a North Carolina native, licensed clinical social worker and full-ime psychotherapist working and living out of New York City.

Warner originally planned to visit Greensboro to do a reading at Scuppernong Books for her recently published rape memoir “The Year After.” Once she arrived in the city, she decided to reach out to Guilford to offer her time through hosting a reading and discussion on our very own campus. But what we got was much more than the average book reading.

Members sat in a circular formation alongside Ashley Warner, her husband Hugo, Guilford’s Wellness Education Coordinator and Community Director for Shore Hall, English Hall and Pope House Kristie Wyatt and six other Guilford students.

The event started with a moment of silence followed by a brief prelude of Warner’s life up to the point of the rape. She then proceeded to read the first chapter of her book, a detailed account of the traumatic rape that shook her foundations about 20 years ago.

“It was absolutely chilling hearing such a personal account from somebody sitting right in front of you who experienced it,” said sophomore Bex Hyman, an attendee of the event.

Being the account of a rape survivor, Warner’s book offers an honest, heart-breaking and inspiring day-by-day narrative of how she dealt with such a life-altering trauma and her road to healing.

“Her book and talk were not only powerfully moving, but necessary,” said sophomore Molly Anne Marcotte. “I feel that many survivors would find the raw emotions that she experienced relatable and empathetic, while any loved ones of survivors could gain new insight and perspective on how to best support them.”

Warner sat among her audience laying down statistics while reading powerful excerpts laced with dark humor from her book. She related her own narrative to the experience that almost every rape survivor has gone through.

“My reluctance to come forward was exactly why I needed to come forward,” said Warner. “I wanted to add my voice to the brave people who spoke out before me.”

When going through her recovery, Warner could not find any literary material like her book to help her through everything she was feeling.

“Six months into my healing process, I was having an episode of extreme emotion when (suddenly), I had a moment of clarity,” said Warner on how the idea to write the book came to her. “When looking for material to relate to, there was not one book that I could find that was a real, day-by-day, from-the-trenches report of what I was going through.”

With her firsthand experience and education in the University of Southern California social work program, she has a positive stance when it comes to educating those on sexual violence. Although her own experience was rape by a stranger off of a college campus, she is still very knowledgeable about closer-in assaults.

According to Warner, 38 percent of survivors were friends or acquaintances with their rapists, and two-thirds of survivors knew of their rapists. These statistics explain why most college survivors do not immediately report their sexual assaults. In fact, according to Warner, only 12 percent of college cases are reported.

In order to combat these percentages, Warner gave detailed information and advice on the prevention of sexual assault and helping those who have fallen victim to it. From being more sensitive to their trauma or just opening your ears, it was clear that what she said came from her own traumatic experience.

“I don’t know a lot about the topic, but after attending Warner’s event I feel much more informed,” said senior Hannah Schewel. “Her dedication to this issue was striking, and when reading us chapters from her book and then relating her experiences to actual facts, it hit home that much harder.”

The talk came to a close with questions from those who attended. Almost everyone asked a question. It was clear that everyone in the room was very invested in the topic and really cared about the issue. At the end of the event, Warner handed out a gift to every participant: their very own copy of “The Year After.”

“Society needs to know how prevalent this topic is, and we need to talk about it so that hopefully, one day we won’t have to have anymore (discussions about it),” said Warner.

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