The voices of consent

Student-led movement focuses on sexual assault awareness and dialogue

Sexual assault awareness is being raised not only at Liberty University but through Lynch- burg and beyond through a non- profit campaign called “Voices of Consent.”

Kelsey Clay, junior Liberty student and founder of “Voices of Consent,” is a survivor of sexual assault. She started this campaign two months ago to “bring awareness to sexual assault, transform society’s response to victims, define what consent is, and prevent future sexual assault criminal acts.”

The idea for “Voices of Con- sent” sparked in Clay’s mind after she went through the Sexual Assault Response Program (SARP) training, which responds to sexual assaults at Lynchburg General Hospital. Clay said she saw the numbers of people who have gone through sexual assault. Clay researched what organizations were available for assault survivors, and felt that there were not enough of them.

“Having gone through sexual assault before, I know how traumatizing it is, and this is an issue that is not talked about enough,” Clay said. “You don’t hear about it in church, at school, (or) on the news. Really, the only thing you’ll hear on the news is different people reporting sexual assault. … It’s never anything about the help you can get…or from a victim’s standpoint on how they feel (and) what they go through.”

SURVIVOR — Members aim to show the reality of sexual assault. Photo provided

SURVIVOR — Members aim to show the reality of sexual assault. Photo provided

One aspect of the “Voices of Consent” mission is to change the age of consent in Virginia. Currently, under certain clauses, the age of consent in Virginia is 13.

Clay said the campaign began as her alone as “the voice,” and the movement grew and expanded into “Voices of Consent” as more people joined the cause.

A private Facebook group of 52 members helps Clay and her team raise sexual assault awareness. A public group of 306 members also participates in activities.

The 52 members from the private group helped by putting on a bake sale to raise funds to help create awareness, as well as participating in a photo shoot that showed women with bruises and injuries created with makeup to represent injuries that sometimes come from sexual assaults.

“Voices of Consent” also plans to produce a five to seven minute film that will be informational and “appropriately graphic,” Clay said.

Junior Graycen Hurt leads the campaign’s marketing, and has seen the impact the group has had in a short amount of time.

“A lot of victims feel like they can’t speak up for themselves or that people won’t believe them,” Hurt said. “Just with our first photo shoot we’ve been able to reach a lot of people. I know that there’s been people who have gotten in contact just from those pictures. … We’re hoping … to make this video that we can share on Facebook and hopefully show places on campus so we can have even more awareness (because) I feel like videos really give what we’re trying to say.”

The pictures are available on the “Voices of Consent” public Facebook page and the website, according to Hurt.

“These images alone — the whole point is, yes, they are hard to look at, yes, they bring up flashbacks and (are) triggering … for victims, but they also display to people that haven’t been through it. Kind of an inside look at how (the victims) feel (and) what they’re going through, and the video even more so is going to … make a lasting impression,” Clay said.

Along with the pictures, the video and bake sale, a team of people help with the marketing and social media aspects of “Voices of Consent” as well, Clay said.


Clay said that her perpetrators, as well as her friends and family and classmates, know she has started “Voices of Consent” and that has given some people the courage to come forward and tell their stories to parents or authorities.

Clay said someone very close to her told her she is not a “victim of her past,” but a “survivor of her future,” and that helped her get through the healing process. Sophomore Rowena Slusser, who is also a survivor of sexual assault, is a mentor for “Voices of Consent” and aims to help others through that same
healing process.

“When I saw (Clay’s) post, it hit my heart because … I just felt like what she was doing was so needed instead of just saying ‘let’s be Christians who help people,’” Slusser said. “This gives people at Liberty a chance to actually get their hands dirty and work in a field that is lacking people to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

People may not think of sexual assault as something that affects the male population, but that is not true. According to Clay, the “Voices of Consent” team is also trying to get that point across alongside their other work.

According to Clay, the “Voices of Consent” team wants to make the campaign a call to action while raising awareness and help people see the reality of sexual assault. Tyler Lucas, a junior and the leader of photography and modeling for “Voices of Consent,” helps offer a picture of
those realities.

“I think a big part of this for me is a lot of people aren’t talking about it,” Lucas said. “This stuff is real, and it hits more to home … (because) there are literally people around you that have gone through that stuff. This is reality. This is right in front of your eyes.”

For more information, visit the Voices of Consent Facebook page or the website at

Ramey is a feature reporter.

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