A panel discussion focusing on the topic of sexual assault was held Monday evening at QVCC.
Jane Doe No More: Sexual Assault Survivors Fighting for Change, organized by On Cue: Culture and Conversations at QV, featured three women who shared their harrowing stories of sexual assault and survival.
Donna Palomba, founder of Jane Doe No More, Hartford Courant columnist and University of New Haven lecturer Susan Campbell, and writer Dylan Farrow, daughter of Mia Farrow, spoke candidly about their experiences as well as the backlash when they came forward.
Palomba was raped at her home in Waterbury in 1993 the first night, since their marriage, that her husband was away. She was further victimized by the Waterbury Police Department which didn’t believe her story and threatened to arrest her unless she admitted to lying. She ended up filing a lawsuit again the police department, and thanks to DNA evidence, her assailant was arrested 11 years later.
Campbell was sexually molested by her stepfather from the age of seven until 13. It wasn’t until she was 29 that she remembered the horrible details and considered suicide. At age 31 she called a hotline and asked for help. She eventually confronted her stepfather and mother, but her perpetrator denied everything.
For as long as she could remember, Farrow said her father, Woody Allen, had been “doing things to me that I didn’t like.” But after an incident in the family’s attic when she was seven, Farrow could not keep her secret any longer. In 2014 when Allen was honored at the Golden Globe Awards and her brother Ronan’s tweet referring to the incident 22 years earlier, Farrow started to write about her experience. Her essay eventually appeared in New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s blog, followed a week later by a lengthy response from Allen, who again denied the allegations.
The three panelists discussed what they referred to as the “rape culture” that tries to silence victims and deny their allegations. Victims get the message that it’s not worth the anguish to come forward. In fact Palomba says sexual assault is the most misunderstood and under-reported crime in the world.
Jane Doe No More is trying to change that and give a voice to the survivors of sexual assault. Its mission is to make the prevention of sexual violence and re-victimization personal through education, awareness, advocacy, and support.