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Rally in Philadelphia emphasizes help, hope for sexual assault victims

Michael Brossard and Kathryn Wylde speak during a WOAR rally Thursday at Philadelphia City Hall.  (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Michael Brossard and Kathryn Wylde speak during a WOAR rally Thursday at Philadelphia City Hall. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Women Organized Against Rape staged a rally Thursday at Philadelphia’s City Hall to demonstrate that there’s help for victims of sexual assault.

Kathryn Wylde, who said was abused since infancy, said she’s constantly haunted by that abuse.

“It’s been a long, long journey, having a couple of years where anything could cause a panic attack — opening the mail, even eating and bathing were difficult for me,” she said. “Some of my abuse happened in the bathroom, the shower and things like that. Just taking my clothes off to get into the shower can be an hours-long battle.”

Another assault victim, Michael Brossard, said he self-medicated to ease his pain for years. But he was able to work on healing with the help of Women Organized against Rape

“It has taken me decades and decades. I’m 53 years old now and, at 53, I finally feel like I have some happiness in my life,” he said. “I have a wife who loves me, I feel supported and encouraged when I speak out.

“I speak at colleges. I speak all over the place, and, to me, that means I have won, my rapist lost and I have won,” he said. “Because I’ve made something positive out of that horrible negative.”

Others said the #MeToo movement has helped victims come forward and seek the help they have needed.

Brossard said he hopes the current Bill Cosby sex assault retrial will show the world that anyone can be an abuser … or the victim of one.

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