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‘Devil’ brigade brings guest speaker to Fort Riley to share story of triumph

By Spc. Elizabeth Payne | 19TH PUBLIC AFFAIRS DETACHMENT | April 28, 2017

     Soldiers of the “Big Red One” attended two presentations given by Michelle Corrao, a victim advocate and assistant director at Prevail, Inc., April 11 and 12 at Fort Riley’s Morris Hill Chapel.

     Corrao was invited to share her personal story of assault to raise awareness about sexual assault and to highlight the resources that are available to aid victims and family members during the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month activities at Fort Riley during April.

     On Sept. 12, 1996, Corrao was returning home from work when outside of her front door, three people knocked her to the ground. They kidnapped and raped Corrao for hours until police stopped them. Corrao shared the details of her assault and discussed how she recovered from the horrific event at a time when support was limited for sexual assault victims.

     She has been telling her story for 11 years and Corrao speaks in order “to provide hope so that people know there is still life after sexual assault.”

     After her assault, she never envisioned moving on and having a normal life, getting married or having kids. But Corrao has accomplished those things and has never been happier, she said.

     Many people who listen to her speeches are not victims, but know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, Corrao said. Friends and family of victims are called “secondary victims.” Loved ones provide support and love to victims, and it is a very big job that no one spontaneously knows how to do. It takes time, support, professionals can step in, like Corrao and victim advocates like Staff Sgt. Guzman, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, who can aid victims and their friends and family.

     “Services that SHARP victim advocates provide are help to coordinate medical and behavioral health appointments, coordination of special victim counseling, and we will personally travel with a person to appointments as a means of support if they desire,” Guzman said.

     Sexual assault is noted to be the most underreported crime in society and in the military, according to Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

     Corrao keeps telling the story because of the feedback she has received from people in the audience.

     “It helps people to know they are not alone,” she said.

     Corrao says she wants people to know that there are resources to help victims and there is hope for happiness to come back after an assault.

 

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