Letter from the Editor: 34th Street Magazine's Assault Survivor Issue
Why Street decided to publish an issue entirely filled with assault testimonies
On Wednesday, Dec. 6, 34th Street Magazine will publish our last issue of the semester: “End the Silence: Assault Survivors at Penn Share Their Stories.” Our print issue will be entirely comprised of assault survivors at Penn and their testimonies. Some are narratives, some are poems, and all are written by survivors.
For those who felt like there was no way to speak or no one who cared to listen, Street wants to offer a platform. We’re presenting Penn with the full, honest reality of survivors’ experiences. And there’s no better way to do that then to let them say it themselves.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience some fear or even guilt about this issue. It’s frightening, as an editor, to put out material that is guaranteed to upset or disturb people. And make no mistake, these stories will upset you. These are brutal, unflinching, truly horrific testimonies.
But we would be doing a disservice to all victims—and, in fact, everyone—by not publishing these stories. They’re ugly and hard but they’re true. They’re real. To pretend that assault doesn’t exist, or that it doesn’t exist at Penn, is to be part of the problem.
And still, it’s hard not to find even just a glimmer of hope in these pages. These are survivors who found their voices. These are people brave enough to write down their stories and deliver them to strangers, whether it be for catharsis or to offer insight.
This is not Street’s issue. It’s not a journalist reporting on a news story. It’s survivors taking control over their voices and their narratives. It’s survivors using the words they need, the space they need, to say what they need to say.
I couldn’t possibly ask you to read every story. I hope you do, and I hope you respect the efforts made by each and every one of our writers. I’ve read each testimony myself, and it’s an almost impossible undertaking. However, our discomfort is just a glimpse into the daily life and struggles of a survivor. I urge you to read what you can. I urge you to take on what feels right for you. We’re including warnings on all content, but just to be explicit: this will be graphic, disturbing content that discusses sexual assault and rape in detail.
You will find a list of resources at the bottom of each article online, and printed on the back of the hard copy on Wednesday. Please note that we will also be present on Wednesday night, 7 – 9 p.m., in The Daily Pennsylvanian office (4015 Walnut Street). We will provide company, food, and hopefully a place to decompress after a difficult day. For those who might need someone to talk to, Penn Benjamins, Penn’s student–run peer counseling group, will be on hand.
For those of you who contributed stories, Street thanks you for your bravery. And for those who wanted to, but weren’t quite ready, or for those who might never be ready, Street too, thanks you for your bravery.
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.