Young La Crosse woman shares story of sexual assault

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Seventeen-year-old Alya Bushman is a fighter and a survivor of sexual assault. 

"It's not something you think would happen to you and once it does, is when you're like I need to take action."

It's been four months since Alya was sexually assaulted by someone she knew. 

"He was a friend, he was a good friend, I had trust in him."

Seven out of ten rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. 

And while the numbers tell a story on their own, Alya wants her story to be one of hope. 

Which is why she's continuing her fight, but this time with a few added techniques. 

Through the program Women Initiating Safe Environments or W.I.S.E., Alya is learning a lot.

The class, which is put on by Three Rivers Martial Arts Academy in La Crosse, puts women in real life scenarios, and teaches them skills they need to survive.

It's taught hundreds of women in the area how to fight and defend themselves should they ever be the intended victim of an assault.

"It's definitely shown me how strong I am, within the second class two of us were chosen to break boards, I was one of them and I did it, didn't think I was physically capable of it," Alya says.

Alya is learning how to push her limits in hopes she never has to say the words "me too" again. 

La Crosse district attorney Tim Gruenke says there has been an increase in the number of serious sexual assault cases reported. 

 And while the problem isn't getting better, he's noticing changes among survivors. 

"More of them are saying that they've felt better because they've been supported, they've taken self defense classes, or they're going to take a self defense class, it's helped give them a voice or a feeling of gaining back some power."

Gruenke also says the 'Me Too' and the 'Times Up' movements are making a difference. 

"They feel that they're not alone."

Movements Alya says are giving her courage. 

"It's definitely the fact of knowing I'm not alone, is what's lifting me up to be able to share what happened to me in my story."

Eight weeks into the class, Alya used that courage to put her new skills to the test. 

On graduation day, she's reminded her sexual assault experience won't define her, because her strength to keep fighting, far outweighs what she calls her one night of defeat.

"This has completely brought me up and out of the shadows like if anyone even tries to do anything, it's going to be stopped immediately, I won't hesitate anymore, it's mentally prepared me for the unthinkable."

If you're a woman interested in taking the class, the next session will be from May 14 to July 9th. 

You may call 608-784-9900 for any questions. 

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