Best friends advocate sexual-assault awareness

Best friends addressed an audience of 230 Tuesday night to talk about sexual-assault awareness as part of the University Lecture Series.

Kelly Addington and Rebecca ‘Becca’ Tieder founded the organization Unite for Change, a national campaign that informs the public about sexual assault and tries to help stop sexual violence. Addington and Tieder attended the University of West Florida.

The friends began their lecture with a story of how they met, and continued to personalize the topic for the audience when Addington told her story about being sexually assaulted during her college years.

The audience took the topic seriously but laughed when Addington and Tieder lightened the mood with humorous anecdotes.

“I actually saw it at a previous institution and I wanted to come back and hear it again,” said 23-year-old Christine Mihalpoulos. “I thought it was very empowering. I think it makes you more aware of different situations you will be in in the future and how to help them and also how to help people you care about.”

Tieder pointed out that the common denominator of social events in college is alcohol — red wine when acting mature, beer at sporting events, champagne at formal gatherings — and said that these places are where students meet prospective partners.

“I thought it was really well done, especially because they had a personal story connecting to their issue. It made it more personal for the audience,” said Ali Wolff, a freshman majoring in sports management. “I thought it was good that they made it a positive experience and didn’t just say, ‘Don’t have sex.’ They said to make it empowering for yourself.”

Most people tend to believe sexual assault won’t happen to them, Wolff said.

“Kelly never thought it’d happen to her. I think they took it in the right direction in saying to go out and have a sober person in your group make plans for you,” she said.

Addington said she is inspired by students to spread sexual-violence awareness.

“They are the ones who are going to enact change on their campus,” she said.

For more information on sexual assault or for advice on the topic, visit