PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Sexual abusers are being exposed.
There’s a growing social media movement where women everywhere are posting on Twitter their stories of sexual assault survival, naming their abusers, and letting victims know they’re not alone.
KDKA spoke to local women who have been sharing their stories online.
“He was a friend of mine,” said Maddie Corcoran, who survived sexual assault.
“I had no idea that he was like that. I just thought he was a sad kid that needed help,” said Dana Desantis, another survivor.
The women said they share the same abuser and discovered the connection through Twitter.
“We actually found out that he had like, six victims, or something like that,” said Corcoran.
Both survivors said it happened in the same place, where they thought they were safe, on-campus at Point Park University.
In both cases, the women told KDKA they were assaulted in their dorms by people they knew.
“Emotional manipulation, saying ‘I’m sad and I need someone to talk to’ and then sort of easing his way into it and then going full force,” said Corcoran.
In the wake of this social media trend, growing numbers of current and former students are now posting on social media, in a series of tweets, exposing what they call an overwhelming “rape culture” running rampant at the school.
“I would say it’s pretty serious considering the fact that students are warned upon their freshman year to avoid certain sports teams and certain parties,” said Corcoran.
Point Park University President Paul Hennigan told KDKA he has been reading the tweets and is heartbroken that this is happening at his university.
“We are taking this very very seriously,” Hennigan said.
Hennigan said the school has been reaching out to students who are making these claims and encouraging them to open a Title IX case.
Desantis said she already did and claims her abuser is still roaming the halls.
“I’m scared to go back on campus because he could potentially be there,” said Desantis.
Title IX is a federal law under the United States Education Amendments Act of 1972. It applies to any educational institution receiving federal financial aid.
The law states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The federal law also ensures protections and resources for survivors of sexual misconduct.
In May, the U.S. Department of Education made changes to the law, giving protections to people accused of sexual misconduct.
As of Saturday, June 27 more than 1,000 students had signed a petition for the school to reject these changes.
Hennigan told KDKA, if the university doesn’t play by the rules, it could lose between $35-50 million in federal financial aid funding.
He said he wants to talk to students who are signing this petition so they can come up with a solution to solve this problem, together.
“As far as I’m concerned, at Point Park University, any destructive force that adversely impacts our culture needs to be eliminated,” said Hennigan.
Read President Paul Hennigan’s full statement here.