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Sexual assault survivor, activist to speak Wednesday

Sexual assault survivor, activist to speak Wednesday

March 13th, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in Local News
Olga Trujillo will give a series of speeches Wednesday at William Woods University and Westminster College.

A speaker coming to Fulton on Wednesday has experience both as a survivor of sexual assault and a leader in the fight against it.

Olga Trujillo will give a series of three free talks, all of which are open to the public. At noon, she'll speak about dissociative identity disorder at William Woods University's Ivy Room. At 4:30 p.m., Trujillo will give a talk titled "The Impact of Physical and Sexual Violence" at William Woods' Dulany Auditorium. She'll repeat the talk at 7:30 p.m. at Westminster College's Hermann Lounge.

"I'm just looking forward to hearing her personal story," said Dr. Kasi Lacey, executive director of Westminster College's Wellness Center. "I think it's really helpful for our students to hear what it's like to be a survivor. Some might be relating a little bit to her story."

Lacey said the Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence, Westminster and William Woods meet regularly as the Callaway County Sexual Assault Task Force. CARDV members heard Trujillo speak and said CCSATF should work to bring her to Fulton.

"She has a lot of different experiences as a survivor both of domestic assault and sexual violence, but you also get to see different parts of her professional work," Lacey added.

Lacey Sweeten-Randall, director of student involvement at William Woods, also expressed excitement about the chance to hear from Trujillo. She said William Woods tries to regularly host events about consent, sexual violence and related topics.

"The feedback we got from students is that they'd like to hear personal experiences," Sweeten-Randall said.

Trujillo's website (olgatrujillo.com) stated she grew up "in a family ravaged by violence." Her father brutally abused her mother. Later, her father and brothers sexually and physically abused Trujillo. As a coping mechanism, she compartmentalized her memories, developing dissociative identity disorder.

In her book "The Sum of my Parts: A Survivor's Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder," Trujillo talks about how DID helped her function but also brought memory loss, flashbacks, panic attacks, a loss of identity and other negative effects.

Trujillo eventually escaped her family and sought therapy. In the early '90s, she began working for the U.S. Department of Justice and became the general counsel to the Office of Justice Programs. Later, she was promoted to director of the DOJ's Office for Victims of Crime's Special Projects Division.

She also founded Olga Trujillo Consulting, which seeks to provide "comprehensive, thought-provoking and innovative approaches to child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, immigration and human trafficking issues," her website states.

"This is an incredible opportunity for students, university faculty, mental health professionals, survivors of abuse, social workers, crisis agency staff, law enforcement and the general public," a CARDV release stated about the event. "Trauma is something that impacts everyone in some way, so join us for this amazing free educational opportunity."

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Lacey said CARDV is planning a Take Back the Night event for mid-April to promote safe communities and raise awareness of sexual violence. Details will be available soon.