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Liz  Seccuro

Liz Seccuro

Rape Survivor, Victims' Advocate, Author

Biography

 

In September 1984, when she was a 17-year-old freshman just beginning campus life at the University of Virginia, Liz Seccuro was gang raped by several perpetrators in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. She received little assistance from the university, ambivalent reactions from friends and family and a condescending rebuke from local law enforcement officials. Bloodied, covered in bruises and bearing broken bones, she arrived at the office of UVA's Dean of Students and was dismissed as a liar. She returned to her young life devoid of justice, vindication and support, finding in adulthood a propensity for alcoholism, promiscuity and self-abuse. Following years of struggling to reckon with her assault, she became a victim's rights advocate, helping others make peace and find justice in their own experiences with gender violence. Read More >

Seccuro’s world was rocked anew in September 2005 by an atonement letter sent by one of her perpetrators, re-opening the old wounds of her traumatic assault and implicating one of her attackers. She began a lengthy email correspondence with her rapist to try and get a sense of what happened that night in 1984. In the process, she brought him to justice, resulting in her best-selling memoir, Crash Into Me: A Survivor's Search for Justice, published by Bloomsbury in 2011. Through her efforts to stand up for victims of gender violence, she has helped change laws on a national level through such legislation as Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs; the Clery Act, a federal statute requiring colleges and universities to share information about campus crimes; and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, a comprehensive program providing outreach and solutions to the problems faced by women on today's college campuses.

Seccuro is a regular presence on NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN and contributes articles to The Daily Beast, Glamour, Living Healthy and Time, among other publications. She was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of SurvJustice, the national non-profit victims' rights advocacy tasked with increasing the prospect of justice for survivors of campus sexual violence by providing legal assistance, training institutions, and supporting change-makers. She is also on the Board of Directors of both RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization, and One in Four, a non-profit organization, led by men dedicated to the prevention of rape by applying theory and research to rape prevention programming. She is currently at work on her second book — a novel — and lives with her husband and two children on the East End of Long Island, New York.

A keynote speaker who appears regularly before audiences of athletes, college students and administrators, law enforcement officials and legal professionals, Seccuro speaks on our current crisis of gender-based violence — what we've achieved and how we can do better. Engaging, witty and non-judgmental, she balances her own traumatic story and hard-won rehabilitation efforts with contemporary stories of survival and justice that leave audience members with a lingering sense of purpose, resolution and hope.

 

RESUME

  Read Less ^

  • Author of the bestselling memoir Crash Into Me: A Survivor's Search for Justice (Bloomsbury, 2011)
  • Frequent contributor to NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and other networks
  • Frequent contributor to The Daily Beast, Glamour, Time Magazine, The New York Daily News, and Healthy Living Magazine
  • Teaches at Georgetown University's Graduate School of Journalism
  • Appointed to the Board of Trustees of SurvJustice in 2015
  • On the Board of Directors, One in Four, a male-driven non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of rape
  • On the National Advisory Council, RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization

Speaker Videos

Aggressive Push to End Sexual Assaults - HLN

Sizzle Reel

Rape Survivor Liz Seccuro Reacts to Rolling Stone Apology

Women's Center 2016 Gala

There Should be no Silence and no Shame

Speech Topics

Keeping Our Campuses Safe For One & All

Using her own story and subsequent two-decade struggle to affect changes in law enforcement and campus policy regarding gender violence, rape survivor Liz Seccuro provides practical information for college students and administrators on rape, sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking and their repercussions in America right now. Translating complex legalese into easy to comprehend terms, Seccuro focuses on the positive changes that have happened in the years since her own tragedy, including the passing of Title IX, the comprehensive federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program, the Clery Act, a federal statute requiring colleges and universities to share information about campus crimes, and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, a comprehensive program providing solutions to the violence women face on today's college campuses. Designed as a primer for victims' rights as well as a constantly evolving update on the myriad changes affecting campus life in America today, this presentation features vital, up-to-the-minute information for students, parents and administrators alike. 

Cultivating Empathy in the Corporate Environment

In this timely and inspirational presentation centering on empathy, rape and domestic violence survivor Liz Seccuro talks about gender violence and how it affects the way we treat our employees, colleagues and clients in the workplace — and how businesses can square their corporate message on gender violence with their overall brand message. Using her own story — surviving a devastating gang rape in a University of Virginia fraternity house when she was only 17 — and subsequent rehabilitation as a starting point, she delves into workplace issues including sexual harassment, victims' rights advocacy and how caring about gender violence can serve as a powerful aspect of a company's brand strategy. In this presentation, Liz talks about how corporate America can lead with transparency and accountability, as she talks about the devastating consequences for employers, employees and shareholders who have attempted to operate in the grey areas.  With levity and enthusiasm, Liz show companies and corporations of all sizes and cultures how they can set an example by combining healthy profits and growth with basic caring for our fellow man.

Playing the Game the Right Way So Nobody Gets Hurt: Gender Violence & Team Sports

As a huge sports fan, rape survivor Liz Seccuro found herself questioning her loyalty to team sports while composing an editorial for Glamour magazine about the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal — one of many recent incidents that has diminished the power and value of the NFL brand and televised team sports in general. In this presentation targeted to professional athletes, coaches and sports teams, clubs and organizations, Seccuro understands and examines, some of the key issues contributing to these scandals, delving into subjects like racism, steroid abuse, homophobia and internalized pressure. Hiring a clinician to talk about statistics isn't enough, she insists — these men need to hear from a victim who has survived sexual assault and domestic violence so that the overwhelmingly male world of team sports can see a mother, sister or wife behind the growing number of assaults at the hands of professional athletes and coaches. Through the telling of her own emotional story — and hard-won rehabilitation and recovery — Seccuro delves to the heart of this high-stakes American story of masculinity intersecting with violence, in the hope of preventing future scandals from surfacing.  She does this all in the true spirit of sportsmanship; by using a level playing field and with passion and commitment.

Hey Bro: How the Internet & Reflections of Masculinity Impacts Campus Violence

In this presentation, fraternity house gang rape survivor and victims' advocate Liz Seccuro examines Internet culture and its impact on young males in America navigating campus life and the new technology shaping us — from apps and dating sites like Tinder to the Internet forums where rape fantasies and the objectification of women flourish unchecked. Delving into a wide range of pop culture phenomena — from Daniel Tosh and YikYak to Amy Schumer, Dane Cook and Tucker Max, Seccuro cuts to the heart of why so-called “bro culture” has resulted in so much campus violence, particularly at the hands of young men who have built large followings on the Internet with their often sexist and misogynistic worldviews. This is a presentation that is enjoyed equally by men, women, and campus administration.

Lifestyle, Wellness & Joy: Building a New You After a Personal Tragedy

In the years following her harrowing experience at age 17, in which she was gang-raped in a fraternity house at the University of Virginia, victim's advocate Liz Seccuro went to every bad place someone in her position could go — from alcoholism and bulimia to promiscuity and cutting. But over time, she learned how to find solace by cultivating three principal elements that helped her reclaim her sense of self: lifestyle, wellness and joy. In this inspirational presentation centering on rebuilding a life after something terrible has occurred, Seccuro employs elements from her own tragedy and lengthy healing process to help others rise above adversity. She advocates building bridges, staying healthy and learning to love oneself, regardless of how far one has fallen into the abyss. Grieving is universal, she insists — and part of the healing process — but happiness doesn't come overnight. Hard work is required, combined with a willingness to keep learning from our mistakes, even when the tragedies that have shaped us are years in the past.  Join her for this joyous celebration of life and love.