How Revealing Her Identity As The St. Paul Assault Survivor Helped Chessy Prout Empower Others

"I felt like I was finally able to do something positive with the terrible thing that had happened to me."

For a while in 2015, every development in Owen Labrie's trial made headlines across the country, propelling the then-19-year-old to national notoriety. Labrie was accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl as a senior at prestigious New Hampshire boarding school St. Paul's School the year before, and his trial injected another element to the fervid discussion on sexual consent.

This August, after remaining anonymous throughout the trial and beyond, Chessy Prout revealed her identity in an emotional interview with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie. "It's been two years now since the whole ordeal," Prout told Guthrie at the time. "I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people — other girls and boys, don't need to be ashamed, either."

Prout, now 18, has since been actively advocating for the empowerment of other survivors like herself. Speaking again to TODAY, Prout recently discussed how she is using her elevated platform to raise awareness and help other victims of sexual assault

Prout talked about how after her interview with Guthrie, other advocates and survivors had reached out to her. 

"I felt like I was finally able to do something positive with the terrible thing that had happened to me. And through that, I've met new people and other survivors and traveled to different schools to speak. The human connection that I've made since then has been incredible and has helped me heal so much more," she said. 

"And that was what I wanted out of the whole thing, to be sort of a lighthouse, a light where people could come if they had any issues, or if they wanted to talk about things if they didn't feel comfortable sharing with their family or school. I wanted them to know there are people who are ready to embrace them and help them out."

Prout has been working with Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE) on a social media campaign called #IHaveTheRightTo aimed at raising awareness and supporting other survivors. 

Despite the still-ongoing legal proceedings — Prout's family is suing St. Paul's for failing to protect children under its care, and Labrie's attorney's are appealing his conviction — Prout said that she's trying her best to go on with her life. 

"I'm definitely living in a very unique moment where I was given a platform to speak and to use my voice and to help myself and help others grow and talk and heal," she said. "I feel like my purpose right now is to help people feel comfortable talking about something that used to be uncomfortable to talk about. You know, this is the new normal. The new normal is speaking and making new relationships everywhere I go with new people, always being open to teach and learn and speak with other people."

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