In 15 minutes Wednesday night, Mel Townsend took about 250 Emporia State students and community residents on a journey from when she was raped to when she helped to rewrite state law removing the statute of limitations for rapists.
Townsend was the featured speaker at Take Back the Night, an event co-sponsored by Emporia State and SOS. She says she never considered she could be sexually attacked, but it happened Dec. 1, 2008, by a serial rapist terrorizing Lawrence and Manhattan.
Townsend was raped and otherwise brutalized for eight hours before the rapist left. A sophomore on the KU volleyball team at the time, she struggled to gain a sense of normality, with her family and team helping her along. Two years ago, she learned the five-year statute of limitations was about to run out on her case -- and she tells KVOE News she "got angry." That led to appearances before both the House and Senate in support of Senate Bill 167, which did indeed remove the statute of limitations for rape cases.
Townsend says her experience has led her to be a firm believer in the "buddy system" when people are out and about and to speak out when something seems amiss. She has graduated from KU with a degree in sports management and is pursuing a dual master's education degree. She believes her example can help others who may have gone through sexual violence to recover as she has.