Survivors hope more empowered to come forward about sexual assault

As more people come forward with their own stories of sexual abuse and harassment--survivors say they are feeling a change in culture when it comes to speaking out.
Two victims, both with ties to Minnesota, hope this new feeling of empowerment eradicates harassment in the workplace for good. 

Sarah Super told Fox 9 every time she hears about another Hollywood entertainer, politician or other powerful figure accused of sexual misconduct she thinks back to the time she shared her own nightmare publicly.

"I had been in a relationship for seven months with the man who would rape me after we broke up." 

The assault happened two years ago, but Sarah refuses to stay silent. She bravely discussed the incident in hopes of inspiring other women to come forward and report their attackers.

"It's not easy….there are negative consequences,” Super said. “We do not live in a culture that readily believes survivors or supports survivors or particularly stands with survivors."

Teri McLaughlin is the executive director of the Minnesota Coalition against Sexual Assault. The group issued a call to action in light of sexual harassment allegations surrounding Cottage Grove lawmaker Dan Schoen.

"We need to call it out when we see it as bystander intervention,” McLaughlin said. “Call it out and say that's not ok this is not something we are going to allow here."

MNCASA is demanding the legislature review its sexual harassment policies, but says harassment will not totally end without a broader cultural shift.

"As we see consequences coming to those who are committing this sexual violence against women and men, I think we will begin to change this culture,” McLaughlin said. 

Women are not the only victims.

Mike Rylander started his acting career in Minneapolis before moving to Los Angeles. He had a talent scout from New York try to act inappropriately with him when he was just 20 years old.

"He took me to a hotel started buying me drinks, I’m underage--nothing serious happened and I’m not going into the rest of the details, but I never told a single soul and this happened 16 years ago."

But, regardless of how much time has passed--survivors say the trauma can last a lifetime.

"When someone speaks out and says this happened to me it allows other people to say me too,” Rylander said.