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Rape victim skates to raise awareness

Jan. 17, 2001

Woman hopes to shed new light on a sensitive topic

By BJ GOERGEN

Staff writer

In America, a woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Because the majority of rape victims don't report these crimes, Laura Anderson, a 20-year-old Dallas native, decided to speak out.

After being raped two years ago by an acquaintance, Anderson decided to turn her tragedy into a lesson for others by skating around America to raise awareness about rape. Anderson rolled into Waco Thursday after in-line skating nearly 100 miles down I-35.

'What an incredible journey this is going to be,' Anderson said.

Anderson, who has been an avid skater since childhood, got the idea for Skate Around America about a year ago. Taking matters into her own hands, she started calling radio stations and charities for support.

Anderson plans to depart from Dallas in February, head west to California, across to New York, down to Florida and then back to Dallas. What some may see as a daunting task, Anderson sees as a therapeutic way to inform people about the facts of rape.

'Rapes are so frequent and secret that people ignore them and pretend they don't happen,' Anderson said.

Known for being shy, Anderson admits that talking about rape is hard, but she is not ashamed of it. 'I know I am supposed to do this,' she said.

Skating on highways holds many dangers and each state has different laws concerning foot traffic. In Texas, Anderson can skate on the shoulder of the road. She decided to skate from Dallas to Waco just to see what she would encounter on her trip. A Dallas radio station, KRBV FM, sponsored Anderson's trip to Waco and sent a station van to support and protect her.

Averaging about 10-miles-per-hour, Anderson had several unexpected setbacks.

'I ran out of clothes because of the rain, and the side of I-35 was covered with rocks,' Anderson said. She also underestimated the harshness of city drivers. 'When we left Dallas, I thought I was going to die.'

Anderson and the radio crew were also stopped by a police officer in Italy, Texas, who informed them that they needed flashers on the van and special markings. Anderson also didn't anticipate the frequent rest stops she would need.

Despite coming to tears once when rain soaked her body, Anderson said the trial-skate gave her hope and a better idea of what she needs to plan for.

'Ultimately, we've had a lot of fun,' she said.

Anderson said that most Americans don't know the facts about rape. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one of every four rapes takes place in a public area or in a parking garage.

Several organizations from Dallas are sponsoring Anderson including the YMCA of Plano and Just for Girls Sports. Despite these sponsors, Anderson still needs a laptop computer and a recreational vehicle to sleep in.

For any additional money raised, Anderson is asking people to donate to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), an on-line charity, which offers a 24-hour hotline and counseling to rape victims for free. Calvin Klein, Sarah McLachlan and Collective Soul are just a few celebrities that sponsor RAINN.

Based on her daily average, Anderson estimates her journey will take eight months to a year to complete. Spending a year on the road skating is a challenge, but Anderson wants to be available to rape victims across the country.

Anderson would appreciate any additional support and can be contacted at laura@aggressive.com.

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