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IU student spreads sexual assault awareness through film, campus advocacy


Senior Riley Dismore stands April 10 outside the Indiana Memorial Union. Her film “Rolling,” which was inspired by a sexual assault she experienced, will be shown at Cannes Film Festival in May. Colin Kulpa Buy Photos

IU senior Riley Dismore is advocating for women through film and involvement in campus organizations following her sexual assault in 2017.

Dismore and 2018 IU graduate Katherine Crump teamed up in April 2018 to create a short film for Campus Movie Fest, a student film festival in which students showcase short films made in only seven days.

Dismore and Crump’s film shows the story of a young woman named Billie telling her roller rink coworkers about a night spent with her manager. As the story unfolds, Billie begins to realize she was sexually assaulted.

The storyline is based off Dismore’s own experience with rape, she said.

On Sept. 30, 2017, Dismore and her female friend went out for drinks after a comedy show, she said. A man approached the two and insisted on buying them drinks.

“I’ve known my whole life don’t accept a drink you didn’t see made,” she said. “You’re told that. But I was new to the bars. I was like, ‘Oh free drinks. This is how it’s done.’”

She said the man returned with a whiskey ginger for her friend and a whiskey water for her.

“That’s when everything…” she said, trailing off.

Later that night, a different man sexually assaulted Dismore twice, she said. She later told police she did not consent to the sexual activity, said Bloomington Police Department Capt. Steve Kellams in a previous Herald-Times article.

Dismore said she did not fully know how to come to terms with what happened to her when she woke up the next morning. She and a friend had plans to go to a Cubs game, and she said she wanted one good day before thinking about it.

Throughout the day, she said she slowly began to realize what happened to her.

She went into a bathroom stall of Portillo’s and Googled, “Was I raped?”

“It’s not like Google is going to tell me,” she said. “But what the hell do you do?”

Within days, Dismore decided to return to Texas to live with her family for a month and a half.

“I came back to school in the spring, and I was just going through the motions,” she said. “I was still doing standup. I was trying so hard to be like ‘I’m not just a victim. I’m still funny. I’m still creative. I'm still talented.’ I think I was trying to prove to everybody and to myself that this wouldn’t define me.”

When Dismore and Crump decided to take part in Campus Movie Fest, they sat on Dismore's couch, cracked open a bottle of pinot grigio and planned out the film in one night.

They filmed at Western Skateland, a Bloomington roller rink, over the span of two days.

“It was a great idea for a short,” Crump said. “And it was exactly the kind of story the both of us wanted to tell.”

After winning Campus Movie Fest, Dismore and Crump applied to be featured in Cannes Film Festival in France. A few months ago, they heard back. Their film will be screened.

"It's an actual dream come true," Dismore said. "It's a one-in-a-million opportunity, and we're so proud the film has touched so many people."

She also said strangers have reached out to thank the women for making the film.

“I think it resonates with people because people realize how frequently this kind of thing happens,” Crump said. “They understand how big of a deal is and how much of an effect it has on women’s lives.”

Dismore has begun to work with It’s On Us, a national sexual assault prevention campaign, to increase trauma education within the campaign on IU's campus.

She also serves as vice president of Shatter the Silence, a new campus organization for sexual assault survivors.

Shatter the Silence is a way for survivors to help each other cope and provide each other with ways to move forward, Dismore said.

“We can use the worst part of our lives and arm new survivors and old survivors to fight back,” she said.

Dismore said she hopes to advocate for women through her involvement in the organization and show them healing is nonlinear.

“Some days I feel really strong and really powerful and my fists up in the air,” she said. “And some days I can’t get out of bed.”

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