By Emily Seevers
As the song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” began playing, the lecture hall full of parents, students and faculty erupted into joyous applause for UNK senior, Tasia Aden, who had just shared her heartbreaking story of traumatic events that had happened to her throughout her childhood to the packed room. The applause, however, came as the strong but tiny social work major from Cozad stated proudly that she has finally found happiness.
Aden gave her moving presentation “Innocence Taken” in Copeland Hall on Monday, Feb. 25. It is her personal story of being sexually assaulted both as a child and an adult, and how she eventually overcame her past and is now using her experience to help others through her non-profit organization.
For seven years, Aden was sexually abused by her paternal grandfather. At the age of four, the 3’5”, 35 pound child was dealing with her own personal nightmare in the form of a 210 pound man. Unable to focus on much else, she failed kindergarten, suffered depression and suicidal thoughts and by age nine was dealing with anxiety over a pregnancy scare.
The depression worsened in middle school, where she became extremely insecure and unconfident due to her abuser constantly putting her down, telling her she was ugly and overweight, even going as far as saying that no one else cared about her. The stress anxiety caused her to have unexplainable stomach pains.
When Aden came to college, she saw it as a new experience to grow, though she wasn’t thrilled about being away from her mother. She met a boy she refers to as “Eric,” who she began dating. It became immediately evident though, that he was a controlling, jealous man who lost his temper with her for “disobeying” him by doing things like having male friends or being somewhere he didn’t want her to be.
His aggression became too much when he started being more physical with her, so she ended the relationship. In a fuming rage, “Eric” followed her to her bedroom and brutally raped her while her friends had a party downstairs. When he came over the next day to tell her that their friends would believe him over her, she felt helpless. She turned to drinking heavily and decided to leave college after getting her tires slashed and more harassment from “Eric.”
The tenacious Aden, however, would not let that hold her back. After she married in 2006, she decided to get professional help through therapy and art therapy. In 2010, she started her non-profit organization “The Teal Lotus,” which she uses to speak out and spread awareness of sexual assault.
April 27, the Annual Teal Lotus Run/Walk will take place in Cozad in an effort to raise money to help sexual assault victims afford therapy fees. Aden continues to travel to schools to share her story and raise awareness. “Don’t be silent; there are others out there waiting to hear your story so they can tell theirs,” Aden said.