Chicago Sexual Assault: Survivors Speak Out

Several support groups help survivors heal by offering a safe and non-threatening environment where they can feel comfortable sharing their stories. Credit: Itziarely Demeza and Vanessa Escutia

Only first names were used for the victims who shared their stories for this piece.

By:Itziarely Demeza and Vanessa Escutia
Jasmine faced sexual violence first hand at age 14. Her perpetrator being the boyfriend that she loved caught her unexpected.

“He forcefully pushed me onto the couch as I cried,” said Jasmine, now 21, as she recounted the incidents from May of 2012 “ He kept saying I was going to be fine and then forced me to have sex with him after I said no.”

Like many survivors, reporting the event was the last thing on her mind, she internalized the pain, she stayed silent until now. She recently attended a concert with her current boyfriend, where she ran into the man who sexually assaulted her.

“I felt like I couldn’t breathe again, and I tried to get away from him. I remember turning around and he was standing right behind me and I felt his body pressed against me and I had to leave. I felt disgusted for two weeks after that and I tried not to make it real for so long that once I felt him again I realized how I actually went through that.”

Jasmine said the frightening night continues to haunt her today. But she’s not the only one facing the challenges of a survivor.

According to RAINN, there are, on average, 434,000 victims who are age 12 or older who have reported rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.

Sexual assault can be defined as any sexual contact of behavior that occurs without given consent. According to RAINN some examples of sexual violence would be attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, catcalls, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, oral sex or penetration of the victim’s body. RAINN states that every nine minutes’ child protective services finds evidence or receives a claim for child or teen sexual abuse.

Who can be a Perpetrator?
Eight times out of 10 perpetrators are people who the victim may already know. Intimate partner violence and acquaintance rape is also very common. Vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence will not go to jail or face prison. According to RAINN out of every 1000 sexual assaults, 995 of perpetrators will walk free.

Experts say it can be difficult for a victim, and this type of behavior can ultimately negatively impact the victims well-being: leading them towards depression, PTSD, self-harm, sleeping disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse and even suicide.

INFOGRAPHIC: What this graph shows is that there seems to be a lot of reported sexual assaults in different districts of Chicago. However, these are statistics from 2001 to the current present, therefore these numbers of reported sexual assaults do not represent every victim who has experienced sexual violence, considering that majority of cases do go unreported.

According to the Chicago Data Portal, Police District 7, which covers the Chicago’s South Side, has had the highest number of reported sexual assaults at a total of 2,063 from 2001-2019 District 20, located on the North Side, has a low number of 561 reported sexual assaults cases.

According to RAINN, only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 3 out of 4 go unreported and there’s many different reasons as to why they don’t.

There are multiple reasons why a survivor may choose not to report sexual assault. These are some of the reasons why. Credit: Itziarely Demeza and Vanessa Escutia


Many movements are dedicated to fighting sexual assault and violence, notably The Me Too movement. It was founded in 2006 by Tarana Burke and exploded in October 2017 after there were substantial allegations made against Harvey Weinstein for sexual harassment.

The birth of the #MeToo hashtag blew up, according to The Telegraph, after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted out asking all women to write “#MeToo” as a status if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted. This tweet ended up getting 10,000 replies within 20 minutes. CNN reported that people tweeted out #MeToo 2.3 million times by early November 2017, from 85 countries.

This movement has encouraged a lot of people to come out and tell their stories. Erinn Robinson from RAINN’s communication team, and an expert in the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, expresses how many people reach out to them per month asking for help. “Prior to the Me Too movement exploding back in 2017, we had about 15,000 callers per month and now over the last year and a half to two years, we’ve had steady between 25 and 26,000 people that reach out to our hotline for support each month.”

Experts say that it is important to get help from a professional because survivors tend to internalize a lot of that trauma and we see that survivors are at a higher risk of suicide and drug use.

“As a society we should try to find and learn ways that can help out a survivor without being critical, because that’s what can cause someone to keep their stories to themselves.
Educating the public on supportive responses when a loved one comes forward with their experience can also be very helpful” Robinson said.

Supportive phrases that RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline Recommend:
“I believe you. / It took a lot of courage to tell me about this.”
“It’s not your fault. / You didn’t do anything to deserve this.”
“You are not alone. / I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.”
“I’m sorry this happened. / This shouldn’t have happened to you.”

Jullian’s Story
Men are also victims of sexual violence and millions of men have been victims of rape. 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male. Transgender individuals and other members of the LBTQ+ community are at a higher risk of sexual violence.

It was a late September of 2019 when Jullian, 27 decided to take a night out and go to club expecting to have a great time, when all of a sudden a male aggressively grabbed him and began to inappropriately touch him, trying to unzip his pants. However, this wasn’t the first time he had been harassed in a public space. He, as well as many others has been a victim to catcalls by other men.

“It’s weird because I’m a guy but i don’t want to feel minimized to what I am wearing,” he said. “People think that because I am a man that it is OK to grab my ass, but its not and I don’t think that people should have to dress down because they are afraid to get cat called. It’s not fair, and not your fault when something like this happens.”

Finding ways to cope has been a challenge for Jullian, and there are more people having to face the leftover traumas associated to sexual violence. Feelings of discomfort and insecurity may arise and feeling safe enough to speak out is not always easy, experts say.

“I definitely talked to my therapist about it and i didnt even realize how I had been cutting myself off from experiencing certain things because I was afraid of what could happen,” Julian said. “I don’t put myself out there as much as I would like to.”

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, Julian says, means that “[we are] hypersexualized, causing sexual assault to be normalized, especially if you are a person of color.”



How to Help
It is important know how acts of sexual violence can deeply affect those who have been victims. There are many negative impacts that a survivor of sexual violence may have to face, that is both short term and long term impacts. This infographic shares information on sexual assault and the psychological and physical impacts, along with tips on how to recover from trauma.

Organizations in Chicago that Help Survivors of Sexual Assault and Help Prevent Rape Culture:

This map includes locations of nonprofit Chicago organizations that not only support survivors and work to prevent sexual violence, but also offer free or low-cost services that include medical and legal advocacy, housing, counseling for all ages, even survivors’ loved ones, from individual, group, or family counseling.

A Long Walk Home
Apna Ghar
Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center
Howard Brown
Mujeres Latinas en Acción

Five Organizations in Chicago that Help Support Survivors of Sexual Assault

Created by: Itziarely Demeza
Resilience, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, A Long Walk Home, Howard Brown on Halsted , and the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline are five nonprofit agencies that offer medical and legal advocacy, counseling for survivors of all ages, as well as prevention programming. These agencies offer low cost to free services that will not only help survivors cope with traumas, but will guide them towards a new beginning. Some of the services provided are medical and legal advocacy, emergency and transitional housing, individual, group and family counseling along with educational training information sessions that focus on preventing rape culture.

These organizations are supporting hundreds of people daily; volunteers and workers are empowering survivors to speak out about their experiences and reassuring them that they are not alone. Whether it is through counseling or information sessions about sexual assault and prevention, these agencies dedicate themselves to assisting survivors in the safest and most professional ways possible.

Condom Distribution Sites in Chicago Neighborhoods

The importance of Condom distribution programs continues to rise as they have shown to be most effective in preventing STDS and HIV. According to Chicago’s Data Portal there is up to 200 condom distribution sites all throughout Chicagoland area. The Chicago Department of Public Health commemorated in World AIDS day by taking part in the movement and distributed up to 20,000 free condoms to commuters in 2011. Additionally, the Chicago Community Condom Project builds on a history of providing access to free condoms along with educational literature. Since 2011, the city increased the number of condoms made available and distributed them to local businesses to communities that are at higher risk of contracting HIV.

Google Trends: Popular Dating Apps Tinder vs. Bumble and Downloading Music from Spotify or Apple Music

Dating apps: Tinder and Bumble 

Connecting with people is now becoming easier than ever! Dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble were created to make it easier for people to find matches within minutes of logging on. The competition between the two is difficult to neglect due to the similar goals that they both have . According to Google Trends the popularity of both apps have and continue to be relevant since they have launched.

The Tinder Dating App was first launched in 2012 by Sean Rad and was only available to iOS users, bypassing all Android users. Once Tinder became available to all, it later restricted those under age 18. Tinder then gained popularity on college campuses which reflects on the chart as Tinder remained to be one of the most used dating apps and and continues to have a consistent interest rates.

To compare, Bumble dating app was created by Tinder’s co founder Whitney Wolfe Herd and launched in 2014. Bumble then came out with Bumble Bizz and Bumble Friends which contributed to the increase of interests in October of 2015. Although this may be true, Bumble interests decreased in 2016 and continues to be lower than Tinder. Will Bumble catch up on popularity? 


Spotify or Apple Music: Which one would you pick?

Everyone is always talking about whether they are team Spotify or team Apple Music, yet the similarities to both make me wonder what makes one better than the other?



Spotify being one of the most used digital music, podcast and videos streaming service gives access to millions of songs and content from all genres of music. Known for its personalized “Discovery Weekly” and its “Release Rader” playlists, the popularity of Spotify peaked for a bit in 2009. According to Google Trends Spotify was on the rise in 2014.

Although that may be true, Apple Music had an impressive growth of interest in 2015 and continues to take the lead since. Apple music has done one thing differently from Spotify, that is integrating the iTunes library along with any music you have — whether previously purchased via the iTunes Store, ripped from a physical CD, or uploaded to iTunes Match. This music will all appear on your apple music library which gives users the ability to freely browse through personal music. The success of Apple music continues to grow and is still on high rise, leaving Spotify behind since 2014  

Top Summer 2016 Olympians by Medals Won

The competition for the summer 2016 Olympic Games intensified as competitors came close in sports. Michael Phelps age 31 who has collected a total of 23 medals since the year 2000 has won a total of 23 golds, three silvers and two bronzes at the Olympics and is considered to be one of the most decorated Olympian of all time. Being the champion swimmer that he has become and beating the record year after year, Phelps won a five golds and a silver at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Furthermore, american swimmer Katie Ledecky took the lead and sprung a huge surprise as she claimed four golds and a silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics Games. Including a historic 200m/400m/800m freestyle treble. Being the youngest athlete on team USA, Ledecky achieved her goal that she had set for herself back in September 2011.

Gymnast Simone Biles, age 19 was the most decorated female athlete at Rio 2016, winning five medals in total, four of them gold and her incredible performances made her an instant Olympic legend. She earned 15.800 points for her crowd-pleasing samba-inspired floor routine as the Americans took gold by a massive 8.209 points from Russia and China; later taking an all around gold as well!

In athletics, 30 year old Allyson Felix is She is also the most successful female track athlete in the history of the IAAF World Championships and the Olympic Games. Her individual silver and two relay golds in Rio took Felix to a total of nine Olympic medals since she started competing. Making her he most successful female track athlete in Olympic history.

Quinn talks about MAP Grants at DePaul University


Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at

By: Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn. 


Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our 

state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required. 

About Me

Hey everyone! My name is Itziarely Demeza and I am a senior at UIC. I am currently studying to receive my Bachelors in Communications and minor in Psychology and I am starting this blog for my Data Journalism class. I look forward to building this blog and I hope you all enjoy!