What started as just a class group project that I was a part of in Fall 2013 eventually led to national attention due to the efforts of my group's work. Coined "The Quartet of Advocates," three classmates and I joined forces to create a petition to get Rape Kits available on campus at UNT, where more than 500 people signed the petition.
I continued to speak out by forming a team of student journalists for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2015, abbreviated and identified to the community as #SAAM. We created a campus-wide campaign, 'UNT Speaks Out,' to spread more awareness on campus, including a website I created with all content entirely produced by myself and my teammate, Cora-Lee Davis that included real stories from real survivors.
I also advocated through my '9 to 5' at the time as a Multimedia Journalist for North Texas Athletics' official website, MeanGreenSports.com. For #SAAM15, I covered a sexual assault awareness fourm hosted by UNT's Multicultural Center for the Mean Green student-athletes.
After graduating with my BA in Broadcast Journalism, I continued my efforts in advocacy for #SAAM17 by coordinating a 'Walk Against Rape' at Fred Moore Park in Denton, TX, supporting the Denton County Friends of the Family.
For #SAAM19, I developed Advocates of Sexual Assault Awareness (A.O.S.A) as a support group for survivors, where we hosted our inaugural Benefit Showcase to spread awareness of sexual assault through an expanded array of content. Through the pandemic, we continued as a unit to support other local organizations such as DARCC.
You may be wondering why I am so passionate about this cause. It is because I, too, am a survivor with my story beginning at 11 years old by an in-law of the family. I didn't have the courage to tell my family what happened to me until years later and since my Women's Studies course in undergrad, I decided to be as much of a voice I can for those that are not yet empowered to speak out and/or have yet to take the necessary steps toward healing.
The funds raised will help establish A.O.S.A as an official 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization including necessary certifications to expand our resources to provide for survivors not just in April for #SAAM, but year-round.
Even if you're unable to contribute at this time, I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to read my story.
Dexia Smith, Founder of A.O.S.A