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The GW Hatchet

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Dozens of sexual violence survivors share stories on anonymous Instagram account

An anonymous Instagram account has shared more than 130 submitted stories of sexual and intimate violence at GW nearly a month after its creation.

The account @gwsurvivors, which posted its first story July 12, describes itself as a platform where members of the GW community can anonymously bring forward stories of sexual violence. The account’s creators keep all identifiers anonymous “for the safety of the survivors and admins,” according to the page.

The first post to the account states that the Instagram page was created to shed light on the experiences of survivors and create a safe space for them to share their stories.

“Sexual/intimate violence is an epidemic among college-aged students across the nation,” the post states. “We hope that in providing this space, we are not only able to allow people to share heavy experiences that might be weighing down on them, but also to spark conversations about what justice means and looks like in a country that is undergoing a movement to abolish policing and incarceration.”

Survivors who have submitted stories to the account have described their alleged perpetrators as involved in fraternities, sororities, student organizations or athletics, faculty or outside of GW, according to statistics the administrators shared on the Instagram page July 30.

Of the 148 submissions the account administrators received by July 30, at least 49 alleged assailants were involved in a fraternity and one particular fraternity was implicated at least seven times, according to statistics posted to the account. Seamus Cullen, the president of the Interfraternity Council, did not return requests for comment.

“There were 15 organizations mentioned from IFC, Panhellenic and professional Greek life,” the post states. “Of the 15 organizations that were specifically named, nine were implicated more than once.”

Officials said last month they are “deeply concerned” about the stories shared on the account, adding that the experiences may not be investigated by the University because the Instagram isn’t affiliated with GW.

The Instagram links to an anonymous submission form that asks the survivor to describe their story, their assailant’s affiliation with student groups, how the survivor would classify the experience and whether the survivor wants their story to be shared on the account or kept for data purposes.

The account also links to a separate webpage where users can submit feedback to the administrators or apply to become an administrator. The page also includes a link to the National Sexual Assault Hotline and Title IX resources described by Students Against Sexual Assault.

Vivika Fernes and Aditi Gupte, the co-presidents of Students Against Sexual Assault, deferred comment to resources and statements they’ve posted on social media.

SASA posted on its Instagram July 20 with five tips, including keeping healing a priority and creating a plan for support and self care, for survivors who are speaking up about their experiences.

“Healing looks different for every survivor,” SASA’s post states. “Thinking about how sharing your story can help you in your process of healing is important. There is no right or wrong answer – only your answer.”

Shannon Mallard contributed reporting.

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