In the fall of 1995, Kristin Cooper was a sophomore at Baker University in Kansas. She was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, an expert skier from the mountains of Colorado, a swimmer, and was active in band, choir and drama.
On the night of New Year's Eve of that same year, her mother Andrea Cooper came home to find Kristina dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on the family room floor.
Cooper shared the story of her daughter's last months through an essay titled "Kristin's Story". The essay includes poetry, letters and descriptions from the personal journal found next to Kristin's body on the night of her death. It was not until Cooper read the journal for the first time that she realized her daughter had been date raped prior to her suicide.
Since then, Cooper has traveled around the country to speak to campuses and conferences about the aftermath of rape and to try to convince victims to come forward. She visited 45 colleges, four conferences and more than 24,000 people in 2004 alone. Twenty of those visits, including this one to Clemson, were made possible with grants through Alpha Chi Omega and Cooper's own sorority, Delta Delta Delta.
Members of the two sororities were present at the discussion to distribute fliers, cozies decorated with emergency phone numbers and ribbons to promote awareness of sexual assault and violence against women.
"It's healing for me," Cooper said. "It keeps Kristin's memory alive, and maybe by talking about it, I can help someone."
According to the Rape Crisis Council of Pickens County, one out of every four females will be sexually assaulted in their college years. However, rape counts for only seven percent of the college...
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However, in 2003, only one sexual assault was reported to the police, a fact that Sparks believes is due to a fear of coming forward about the attack.
"We're trying to get the word out that it's okay to tell," she said.
Psychologists are on hand at Redfern to listen to rape victims without judging or blaming, to give comfort, and to look for signs of post-rape trauma. Without proper training, Cooper wasn't able to spot these signs in her daughter.
"I was not able to help Kristin, but I hope that by being here, I have helped a man or a woman in the audience," she said.
Cooper added that female date rape is not the only type of sexual assault threatens the population. Male rape, marital rape and stranger rape are other traumatizing experiences that frequently go unreported, and carry with them the same post-traumatic stress symptoms.
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