'I was taken to the hospital in a towel and with fractured heels' — 49 sexual assault survivors share their stories

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — The stories we tell are how we know who we are. And sharing a tale can change history.

Here's Barbara Johnson's story:

"It's scary but in some ways it gets easier," Johnson said, "and I've always had a very positive reception."

Johnson says she was raped on June 20, 2016.

"I was taken to the hospital in a towel and with fractured heels. I had fractured my heels jumping off a loft to get away. The towel was found in my landlady's place."

Then, she says she went through the excruciating task of a rape examination. In the end there were no arrests.

There are 48 other stories being written now.

The stories will be posted on the website Johnson helped create: 49th Rising. It's an advocacy group pushing for changes in the next legislative session that include expanding rehabilitation programs for sex-offenders, enhancing support systems, reforms of sexual assault rape kit processing and a revision of the definition of sexual contact as well as safety plans for all communities within the state.

"I think it's really powerful," Johnson said, "I think it's one of the most powerful tools we have, we are putting a face on the statistics."

According to the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice center, one in three Alaskan women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.

According to Standing Together Against Rape, 73 percent of sexual assaults in Alaska were committed by someone the victim knows, and that child sexual assault in the state is almost six times the national average.

"I want to make this clear, I don't think victims owe their stories to anyone, it's really a personal decision to share it," Johnson said. "And sometimes it's a sense that they have to share them, and they really don't, but if some people are in a place to, if they are in a place where they can share it, we wanted to make sure there was a place to do it on their own terms and in their own words."

You can share your story here.

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