Alpha Chi Omega hosts ‘Kristin’s Story’

Andrea Cooper shares the dangers of rape and her daughter’s story.

by Alex Holmquist

Though nearly everyone realizes that being raped by a stranger causes the victim immense pain and anguish, some may not understand that being raped by an acquaintance or âÄúfriendâÄù can be just as devastating. On Monday, Alpha Chi Omega sorority will host Andrea Cooper at the University of Minnesota to tell the story of her daughter, Kristin Cooper, who committed suicide in 1995 after being raped by an acquaintance. Andrea Cooper said her daughter was an active 20-year-old college student and Alpha Chi Omega member at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., when she was raped at a party she attended with friends. Four months later, Andrea Cooper and her husband returned home on New YearâÄôs Eve to find their daughter in the family room, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Andrea Cooper said she suspected her daughterâÄôs suicide was the result of a recent breakup with a serious boyfriend. However, next to Kristin CooperâÄôs body was her journal, containing information her mother never knew: She had been raped. Kristin Cooper had confided in her best friend and sorority sisters, but she never named her attacker in her journal. Though her friends were unable to remember the name of the man Kristin Cooper said attacked her, they picked out a photo of the man who they believe committed the crime. But with no victim to identify the attacker, police said they would be unable to charge the man with Kristin CooperâÄôs rape. Kristin CooperâÄôs friends also told Andrea Cooper that her boyfriend broke up with her when she told him about the rape. Since then, Andrea Cooper has spoken at 318 colleges and universities across the country to warn students of the potential consequences of acquaintance rape and depression. Andrea Cooper said she also hopes to encourage family, friends and partners to be supportive if a loved one is raped by an acquaintance. âÄúYou have to be a really, really good listener,âÄù Andrea Cooper said, âÄúand not judge them or blame them.âÄù Andrea Cooper said family and friends should encourage the victim to go to counseling, which is confidential, and offer to go with them to provide extra support. However, she advises supporters to allow the victim to decide whether to tell police. âÄúYou canâÄôt take that power away from the victim,âÄù Andrea Cooper said. According to the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, of 99 clients who visited the center in 2009 because of an experience of sexual assault, 69 experienced acquaintance sexual assault. Laura Battaglia, an Alpha Chi Omega member who organized the event, said the sorority decided to host it to remind students that rape is not always committed by complete strangers. âÄúIt also happens in the comfort of peopleâÄôs homes,âÄù Battaglia said. âÄúItâÄôs always scary.âÄù Andrea Cooper will speak at Ted Mann Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Monday. Battaglia said she has already received confirmations of attendance from 900 student-athletes and fraternity and sorority members, but hopes many other University students will attend.