AMHERST, N.Y. — Sexual assault is a big issue on college campuses across the country, especially here in Buffalo.
Thursday night, a group of students at UB spent their evening trying to bring comfort to victims with thousands of comfort kits.
"Yes, I was assaulted, and I was raped, but I made it through. I'm recovering, and recovery is definitely a forever process. And, everybody's recovery process is not always a quick one or even a long one. Everybody's different," says Zeke Thomas.
Artist and activist Zeke Thomas played a set for hundreds of UB students and shared his story of survival Thursday night.
"It's so important for me as a man, and even as a black man, and as a gay man just to be able to share my story and be very open about it. It's also important for me because when a lot of people get to see somebody like them, the same age group, kind of, I'm a little older now, but talking to college students and talking to people in the community, it's great to see somebody who you know, who you recognize, that you can identify with to be able to help get through this," says Thomas.
Thomas is bringing his message to SUNY students across the state as part of SUNY's Got Your Back initiative to bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence. As part of the program, students are putting together thousands of kits for survivors.
"This is really important, and that it might just seem like a small thing, like a small community builder, but it makes a world of impact for the survivors," says UB Senior Emma Skreppen.
Volunteers on the front lines have seen the difference these comfort kits make.
"I am the first person to actually say I believe you, I'm here to support you, let's see what we can do to help you," says UB grad student Emma Valvo. "To have everyone here to assemble comfort kits, to be able to help thousands of survivors is incredible."
"This is our salute to victims of sexual assault that we are here for you, and we are ready to end rape culture, and we are ready to live in a world where we don't have to say me too anymore," says Skreppen.
There is a lot of help and support out there for survivors. Crisis Services is available 24-hours a day at 716-834-3131.