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Victim of date rape shares experience at Kutztown University

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - A victim of date rape shared her life-changing experience as the keynote speaker for Kutztown University’s Respect My Red Leadership Training Monday night.

In vivid detail, Katie Koestner, the executive director of Campus Outreach Services for the Take Back the Night Foundation, brought to life her experience of being raped by her date as an 18-year-old freshman at the College of William & Mary.

With powerful details, Koestner took about 200 men and women, most of whom were KU students, back to that night. She described her date’s three-piece, pin-striped suit; the champagne he ordered with dinner; the pink carpet, yellow walls and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of her room; her worries about how her mother would kill her if he tore the buttons from the dress she was wearing; and finally running to the bathroom after it was over and throwing up in the sink because she couldn't make it to the toilet.

Koestner explained how her resident assistant, Dave – the first person she told about the rape -- tried to help her by taking her to the college's health center, where she was given sleeping pills and told to come back when the doctor was in and to the dean, who said, "You're making a very serious charge against one of our students," and encouraged her to think about what she was saying before she ruined someone's life, and how even her father told her, "You shouldn't have had him in your room. Then it wouldn't have happened."

With a mix of both humor and candor, Koestner asked the audience some tough questions: What are you passionate about? Are you an activist, and what does that mean? What would you endure? What would you take on? And who would you be willing to lose to stand behind your passion?

Koestner said that standing up for what she believed in wasn't easy. She had nasty names spray-painted on her car and was voted "most dangerous man on campus," but she said that one has only so many chances to speak up.

"You can stand alone for any cause you want and eventually, you won't be alone," she said. "Before me, there had never been someone to stand up to date rape."

Koestner was featured on the cover of Time magazine in June 1991 after publicly speaking out about her rape.

The one-day conference on sexual misconduct - Respect My Red Leadership Training - was hosted by the Policy Institute, Campus Outreach, and Take Back the Night (TBTN).

TBTN's mission is "to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives." The organization seeks "to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse, and all other forms of sexual violence."

Students, faculty, staff, and community members are encouraged to attend TBTN on Thursday, April 20 at 5 p.m. at Kutztown University's McFarland Student Union Building as survivors of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual abuse come together to share their stories.


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