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Sexual assault: Student speaks out

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Brianna Greenway shares her story.
Photo by Stephen Kondor


By Stephen Kondor
Managing Editor of Content

The 19-year-old Cuesta student says he raped her twice. Once in his home and once in his truck.

They had only been dating for a month and a half. She was 16. He was 19.

Brianna Greenway said she was too fearful that evening three years ago — and in the years since — to report the attack.

“I thought I did something to deserve it or did something wrong,” Greenway said. “I was scared to leave him [that night] so I stayed.”

Greenway’s willingness to speak out comes at a time when sexual assault victims have been at the center of media coverage, particularly after the #MeToo movement unleashed a fury of allegations.

Locally, a San Luis Obispo Police Department investigator’s comments about how most student-reported sexual assaults are “conjured up,” stirred anger on campus — and put him in hot water.

Nationally, victims have been speaking out about how movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K and many more allegedly assaulted them.

The onslaught of allegations occurring on a daily basis goes beyond Hollywood. It goes to Congress where Alabama Senator Roy Moore is now under fire, but it goes further. It goes all the way to the White House.

It’s estimated that one in five women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to numerous victim advocacy groups. However, experts say that only one in three rapes are reported to authorities due to humiliation, fear of reprisal from the suspect and out of fear of not being believed.

The fear of not being believed if she filed a report was “real” for Greenway. “Especially when it’s someone who would be responsible for investigating the claim [makes those comments],” Greenway said in reference to a SLO PD investigators comments on sexual assault claims.

Greenway did not report the rape and said that she never intended to do so — out of fear for her family’s safety.

“It wasn’t something that we talked about in high school, so I really had no idea where to go,” Greenway recalled.

Greenway had to take a semester off from high school in order to be home-schooled. She said she couldn’t leave her home because of the trauma.

“It was about a year and half before I accidentally said his name in therapy,” Greenway said. “It took being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and about a year of therapy to feel safe enough to leave my house.”

Because Greenway verbalized his name during a counseling session and then recounted the attack, the therapist was mandated to file an official report.

A case was opened in June 2016. The defendant entered a plea of not guilty two months later to two counts of unlawful sex with a minor, according to court documents. In May of this year, the defendant’s attorney informed the judge he had lost contact with his client. The trial was cancelled and the judge issued a $10,000 warrant for his arrest, documents show.

In the meantime, Greenway is trying to cope with the PTSD she said she has suffered since the attack.

Greenway said she has several medical conditions that warrant her need for a service dog, but when she learned that her dog could be trained to support her for PTSD as well, it made that much more sense for her to get one.

“I wouldn’t even be able to be at school without Sherlock,” Greenway said of her service dog.

Greenway comes from a “very religious” household and said she felt as though that made it even more difficult to come forward.

Three years have now gone by since the sexual assault and Greenway is moving forward although she said “her confidence was ruined for a long time” and that she still has “panic attacks and trust issues.”

In retrospect, however, she said she feels as though filing a report as soon as you can is the right thing to do.

“I wish I had done something right away because someone like that could’ve hurt other women,” Greenway said.

However, she also said she feels that the decision of whether to report a sexual assault is a personal one: “It’s up to the victim to come forward and decide if it is going to help or make matters worse.”