Speaking to the World
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Rape Survivor, Victims' Advocate, Author
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.
Campus Sexual Assaults in Spotlight
Women's Center 2016 Gala
There Should be no Silence and no Shame
In this presentation for corporations, women’s groups, Greek organizations and sports teams, fraternity house gang rape survivor and victims' advocate Liz Seccuro tells the riveting story of how an innocuous prescription for pain medication to treat her endometriosis 5 years ago turned into a full-blown $200 per day opioid addiction. With honesty and candor, Liz shares tales of secret trips to Mexico to buy drugs in the back alleys of Tijuana, painful withdrawal symptoms, and a life-changing trip to a rehab where she learned so much about the link between opioid addiction and sexual assault. Now 500 days clean and sober, Liz describes the shame, guilt and secrecy of becoming a statistic, and the desperation and dangers of how this Beverly Hills wife and mom trolled the dark side of the drug trade, doctor shopping, and financial ruin. With a surprising frankness, Liz explains how drug addiction can affect anyone. Her story of survival and recovery is filled with triumph, humor, and the joy of second chances.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have heard nothing but rave reviews about your speech. You really were the perfect person to close out our symposium—I am already thinking ahead to how and when we can have you back. You are amazing! While I had already read your book, there was something so powerful to hear you tell your story."
"She was a super-energized person and very easy to be around. She was well-spoken, clear, compelling and overall BRAVE to share her story. The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been great!"
"I want to thank you personally for speaking with us at Skidmore on Friday. Your perspective has been a tremendous help as we continue to try to make change on campus. Thank you for sharing your story with us. From what I have experienced on this issue, it is apparent that even with the passage of time, telling one's own story is always difficult. You've inspired us to keep working and make sure our approach is effective and realistic. It would be amazing to have you back sometime."
"I'm writing to thank you again and tell you what phenomenal feedback I've been hearing today. It seems that everyone I've spoken with—whether they be student, faculty, or staff—took away something very profound and personal from your presentation last night. And every person so far has mentioned something different, so the many levels at which you engaged people were very effective. Thank you once more, and I hope that our paths may cross again one day."
"Working with Liz was an experience my staff and I will treasure for quite a while. Her presentation was not only extremely relevant to our students, it was engaging and personal. Liz had told us she would stay as long as needed to responded to every student there and she was true to her word…no student left without having the time they wanted to talk individually with Liz. She even provided her personal email and later told me she received 80+ emails before she even got home. Liz’s message should be heard on every college campus by every new student."
"Things went very well. Liz was very well received and it was a powerful and moving day! Thank you for your help in making our event a success! Many people came up to me afterwards and told me how moving they found her story and how real it made sexual violence seem to them. It certainly appears that their awareness has been raised. Even for me, I was keenly struck by the balance that she appears to have achieved in her life, as a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur and a survivor. Each of these labels make up who she is but none of them define her. Her words and advice very much resonated with our values and it was inspiring to all of us to hear her story. Thanks again for all of her help. She is an incredibly strong and inspirational woman. I hope we can keep in touch."
"Many thanks for coming to Georgetown to share the story of your journey as a survivor of sexual assault. Our community is better for having you here to inform, educate and inspire us into action."
Author Liz Seccuro is a passionate victims’ rights activist who inspires audiences with her compelling journey in search of justice. Ms. Seccuro is a motivating speaker who sheds light on campus sexual assault by framing the dialogue within the current climate of college campuses, which is enlivened by her personal experiences. I recommend Ms. Seccuro as a speaker often and I can’t wait to hear her again!
"I just completed reviewed over 200 evaluations from the September 21 presentation. Almost every single one of the evaluations were extremely positive. The most frequent comments/quotes were: “Awesome!!” (This exact word on over 50 evaluations); “Riveting” (She held the audience's attention!!); “She is brave!!”; “She is an amazing presenter!!” (Over 60 evaluations said); “The entire room was engaged!!”; “I wanted to hug her and say ‘Great Job! You are Very a brave woman.’”
Liz's ability to engage the audience and to have first responders and social workers who routinely work with crime victims feel "empathy" and feel inspired to continue their work was a huge contribution to this conference. Once I put "Liz Seccuro's" name on the program, the conference sold out!! Over 230 people!!"
"It was wonderful! I have heard nothing but positive feedback about the event so far and so many people have already written to thank us for bringing her. She did a wonderful job connecting with the audience and sharing the honest realities of the aftermath of sexual assault. Many thanks for delivering this powerful message to our community!"
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