Rape survivor shares powerful message, PAR celebrates 40 years in Lowcountry

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A powerful message from a rape survivor at People Against Rape's annual "Take Back the Night" rally Thursday as PAR celebrated 40 years in the tri-county area.

"I'd like to say I'm a survivor not because of anything I've done or any special abilities but by the grace of God," says Lori Johnson Boyd, a rape survivor.

Boyd says her recovery has been a long and at times rocky road. She was attacked and raped 28 years ago in her home, in front of her 2-year-old child.

"I'm glad to be able to be out to share, to reach back and maybe allow someone else who has gone through the same thing, to know that there is life after rape. It doesn't have to take your life."

Boyd says many people, services and organizations have taken part in her healing, among them PAR

"By being here I think it just encourages the community and encourages people who are listening and who are here that it's ok," says PAR's executive director Stacey Tunstill. "We can talk about it. We need to talk about it.

Tunstill says one in five women is raped in their lifetime.

"Everybody knows several people, men and women, who have been sexually assaulted, who couldn't talk about it. They can't talk about it, and that's not right."

Boyd says there are many misconceptions about rape and sexual assault. She says there is one that troubles her the most.

"That the victim had something to do with it. We tend to tell people or victims why did you go there, you shouldn't have had that much to drink, why did you wear that, it's too tight, it's too revealing, but never, ever, under any circumstances, is rape the victim's fault."

The first "Take Back the Night" rally in the country was in 1975 in Philadelphia. It has become an annual tradition in dozens of cities ever since.