‘Everyone has the right to feel safe’

Michael Carnes keynote speaker for sexual violence prevention program


Sarah Lentz

Michael Carnes kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness month Monday.

Alissa Woockman, Staff Writer

Everyone has a right to feel safe, especially in your own community.

Kicking off Sexual Assault Awareness month was keynote speaker Michael Carnes, author of the book “Call Me a Survivor.” Your Voice, Our Future is a sexual violence prevention program that was held this past Monday.

Carnes recalled that warm, spring evening in 1976. The mental and emotional wounds of a sexual assault then haunted him throughout the rest of his childhood and into his adult life.

“As much as I was terrorized that night, though, it was only the beginning of a life filled with nightmares, mental torture and finally redemption,” said Carnes.

Carnes spoke about his experience as a survivor. After living three-fourths of his life with anger and fear, he has come out on the other side a stronger person.

“Call Me a Survivor” is his story about the inspirational power he has drawn upon to overcome his painful memories and become a survivor.

He encourages this strength in the people who have been victims of sexual assault themselves.

“Those who have committed their crimes against you only hold that power over you if you allow them to,” Carnes wrote.

Carrie Fertig from Providence Medical Center was also at the event to address questions pertaining to sexual assault evidence collection.

Fertig has been a nurse for a number of years and has had her fair share of sexual assault cases. Her job is to provide victims with medical help and physical evidence needed to press charges against the assailant and have some peace of mind.

In such a tense and uncomfortable situation, Fertig does her best to make the victim as comfortable as possible.

Carnes hopes that his book will give victims a blueprint on how to understand their experiences and how not to let it negatively impact their lives. The important thing Carnes reiterates is that we are all survivors and we must look upon ourselves as having the capability to rise above it.