Raised in Japan, Chessy Prout moved to the US after the 2011 Tohuku earthquake. She enrolled as a freshman at St. Paul's School -- a boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire that her father and sister had attended. In 2014, Chessy Prout was a freshman, when a senior boy sexually assaulted her as part of a ritualized game of conquest called "The Senior Salute." Chessy bravely reported her assault to the police and testified against her attacker in court. Then, in the face of horrific backlash from her once-trusted school community, she shed her anonymity to help other survivors find their voice. One person at a time, Chessy built a circle of survivors who took a magnifying glass to the institutions that turn a blind eye to such behavior and a society that blames victims rather than perpetrators. Chessy writes about her experiences in her memoir I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope. The book received the International Literacy Association's (ILA) 2019 Award for Best Book in Young Adult Nonfiction. Learn more at ihavetherighttobook.com.
After facing unfathomable backlash from her school community, Chessy left St. Paul's school to finish high school in Florida. As a senior, Chessy decided to step forward publicly to help other survivors find their voice when her former school challenged her anonymity in a court filing. And so, #IHaveTheRightTo was born as not only a social media campaign, but also as a way to engage students and people young and old to be a positive force for change and bring safety and respect to all.
Since its inception in 2016, many have come forward to claim their rights, shine the light on the issue of sexual assault in schools; and share their experiences, learning, and resources through #IHaveTheRightTo. These stories have inspired a movement for people to claim their rights and the Prout family to create a space that can serve as a safe community for those committed to shifting our cultural understanding of how to support survivors around the world, and to help them find justice.
I Have The Right To (IHTRT) is a national non-profit, 501(c)3, with a mission to prevent sexual violence and its consequences in private high schools and boarding schools, and to provide essential services to crime victims and survivors. Building on momentum gained from Chessy’s #IHaveTheRightTo social media campaign and her recently published I Have The Right To book, the organization promises to be a safe place where survivors, and families of survivors, can come to find support, belief in their accounts of what has occurred in their lives, advocacy for their rights, and a loving community.
All students have the right to:
1. Know and exercise their rights;
2. Be believed;
3. Be heard;
4. Justice; and
5. Attend a high school without the threat of sexual assault, sexual hazing, or sexual bullying.
Chessy's speaking engagements include moderated panels, Q&A, and short-to-medium length speeches for audiences of every kind. Specializing in topics such as: her book, youth and female empowerment, middle and high school relationships, and educational safety from a student's perspective. The program can also feature Chessy and Investigative Journalist Jenn Abelson, who had been at the Boston Globe at the time of Chessy's assault while reporting on the issue throughout the Northeast, and is presently a member of the Washington Post Investigative Team. In addition to Jenn, Chessy can also be joined by one or both of her parents to offer audiences a powerful perspective on the broad impact of sexual assault on a survivor's entire family and the community beyond.
Awards & Recognitions:
• SURVJUSTICE - Survivor Courage Award, 2018 • Naples Daily News Student of Distinction - Community School of Naples, 2017 • Together for Girls - Chessy Prout Global Hero of the Week, 2017 • Together for Girls - Named one of the "Sixteen Heroes of 2016"
Past Engagements (partial list):
• Together For Girls, Panelist • Georgetown Day School • Quinnipiac - Yale,Dispute Resolution Workshop, Speaker • U.S. House of Representatives Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, Panelist • University of New Hampshire School of Law, Panelist • NOVA Annual Training Conference, Speaker • Fort Belvoir SHARP Professional Training, Speaker
CHESSY IS ALSO AVAILABLE TO APPEAR with her co-author Jenn Abelson, who can lead a conversation with 20 year old Chessy Prout, and, if desired, a panel can include Chessy's parent(s). Whether appearing alone, in a facilitated conversation or an expanded panel with her parent(s), the discussion explores Chessy’s journey as a survivor of high school sexual assault, the struggles teens face in speaking out, how to respond to survivors, and ways to upend rape culture. Chessy will dive deep into the challenges young survivors face, including bullying, guilt, shame, betrayal, and isolation from their communities. Chessy (and her parent(s), if desired) will talk about her pursuit of justice and describe some of the key lessons she's learned: there is no perfect victim; rape is not a punishment for poor judgement; and survivors can find strength through their vulnerabilities. Chessy also discusses how her assault impacted her entire family and the organization they launched together to help other survivors and build a culture of consent called, I Have The Right To. See video on this website featuring her mother, Susan Prout on "CBS This Morning" with advice for parents.
ABOUT JENN ABELSON:
Jenn Abelson was an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe when she was co-author with Chessy Prout of her memoir, I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope which grew out of her Globe reporting. Ms. Abelson’s investigations for the Spotlight Team have exposed sexual misconduct at private schools, ESPN, and within the modeling industry. She has also investigated surgeons secretly operating on two patients simultaneously and the mislabeling of fish at restaurants. In 2015, she was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series about dangerous off-campus college housing. She is on the Investigative Unit of The Washington Post. Ms. Abelson grew up in New York, attended Cornell University, and lives in Washington, D.C.
“A bold, new voice.” —People
“A nuanced addition to the #MeToo conversation.” —Vice
A young survivor tells her searing, visceral story of sexual assault, justice, and healing in this gutwrenching memoir.
The numbers are staggering: nearly one in five girls ages fourteen to seventeen have been the victim of a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. This is the true story of one of those girls.
In 2014, Chessy Prout was a freshman at St. Paul’s School, a prestigious boarding school in New Hampshire, when a senior boy sexually assaulted her as part of a ritualized game of conquest. Chessy bravely reported her assault to the police and testified against her attacker in court. Then, in the face of unexpected backlash from her once-trusted school community, she shed her anonymity to help other survivors find their voice.
This memoir is more than an account of a horrific event. It takes a magnifying glass to the institutions that turn a blind eye to such behavior and a society that blames victims rather than perpetrators. Chessy’s story offers real, powerful solutions to upend rape culture as we know it today. Prepare to be inspired by this remarkable young woman and her story of survival, advocacy, and hope in the face of unspeakable trauma.
Chessy Prout speaks with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie on her Rape Case, Verdict And Future.
Author and advocate Chessy Prout and her father Alex Prout speak with Washington Post investigative reporter & co-author Jenn Abelson
Chessy Prout who made headlines as an anonymous victim in a sexual assault trial that gripped the country, shares her story.
Chessy Prout and her mother Susan became advocates for survivors after Chessy was sexually assaulted by a classmate.
Prout takes readers behind the headlines in this candid and inspiring memoir of her assault and subsequent journey to justice and healing … Prout recounts her traumatic experience and its prolonged aftermath—the bullying and ostracization she endured upon her return to St. Paul’s and the well-publicized trial—in honest and gut-wrenching detail … Powerful, essential reading for all high school and college students, parents, and educators.
Kirkus Reviews: STARRED REVIEW
This is an outstanding examination of rape culture, injustice, and privilege. Readers will instantly connect with Prout’s genuineness and her candor as she details her daily life and the ways in which institutions and people fail survivors of sexual assault by resorting to victim shaming and hostility instead of effecting change. Prout’s advocacy will be an inspiration to teens, and the representation of her fiercely supportive family is one that is sorely needed. VERDICT This outstanding memoir is a must for YA collections.
Parents’ Choice Award: GOLD MEDAL
With great perseverance, Chessy challenged and fought and stood up for her rights. Deftly told with the help of Boston Globe reporter Jenn Abelson, this is a must read for young women, men, and their parents.
School Library Journal: STARRED REVIEW
Publishers Weekly: Honest and raw memoir ... Prout's descriptions of her assault and its crushing emotional aftermath (involving self-doubt, guilt, shame, peer ostracizing, and cyber-bullying) and the agonizing, widely publicized trial that resulted in her assailant's conviction on some, but not all, charges brought against him, are wrenching and painful. Readers will take away a deep appreciation and admiration for Prout's resilience as she transitions into a resolute crusader for the empowerment of victims of sexual violence—and for its prevention.
Ms. Magazine: Prout recounts not only the horrific event itself, but also the aftermath—and expands the important conversation she’s been sparking for two years. Prout’s ability to transform so much of her pain into action and hope for not just herself, but for so many other survivors, is incredibly empowering. Her book, full of honesty and reflection, provides profound insight into one teenager’s path to finding her voice—and serves as a roadmap for friends and family who want to support the survivors in their lives.
Shelf Awareness: I Have the Right To is now-19-year-old Chessy's direct and candid account of her life leading up to the assault, the assault itself and every painful step afterward. The memoir is both heartbreaking and hopeful, an honest and frank testimony; it is an important (if difficult) read that acts as both an eye-opener and a call to action.
Inspirer Life: Through her new memoir, “I Have The Right To,” Chessy proves that no one can truly take your humanity, no one—no matter how powerful, or socially prestigious—should be able to strip you of these very basic human rights of safety and respect, and no one can silence you or keep you from speaking your truth. This book is a powerful, emotional story of one girl’s very long journey that continues today.
Boston Globe: Powerful ... Prout’s YA memoir, by turns a heartbreaking and infuriating account of her assault and its aftermath, offers profoundly troubling evidence that not much has changed in either rape culture or high schools in the two decades since “Speak” was published.
VICE: A book by someone so young, so soon after the fact, provides a nuanced addition to the #MeToo conversation, one in which Prout nods to her privilege—financial and racial—as well as her family for giving her the support she needed to speak out.
People: A new, bold voice and teen activist for other young women.
The Audio Blog: Chessy‘s memoir, I Have The Right To, is the powerful true story of a young woman’s survival, advocacy, and hope in the face of unspeakable trauma. Offering solutions to upend rape culture, holding institutions that turn a blind eye to sexual assault accountable, and confronting a society that blames victims rather than perpetrators, I Have The Right To is a book of bravery.
The Millions A vivid portrait of the impossible contradictions that accompany growing up female in 2010s America … show assault within the subtler, insidious instances of misogyny that constitute our culture: the rankings, the lists, the bullying that ensues after the rejection or acceptance of an advance.
Metropolis Japan: Prout’s narrative in I Have the Right To is, in part, about institutional failings in sexual assault cases. It’s about the inability of an elite private school to ensure the safety of the students entrusted to them, but even more so about the inability of that school community to recognize and rectify those failings.
The Concord Monitor: Prout gives readers an unfiltered look into her assault, the high-profile criminal trial and her decision to go public. The memoir, which will be released Tuesday, takes readers on an emotional journey through Prout’s childhood in Japan, her freshman year at St. Paul’s and her advocacy work.
Naples Daily News: Chessy Prout has become a powerhouse of change.
Bustle: ‘I Have The Right To' By Chessy Prout Is A Long Overdue "Love Letter" To Survivors Of Sexual Assault.
New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation: Her narrative is a rich source for our clients to learn about many elements of trauma recovery, as well as a source of inspiration for clients and therapists, alike … I can’t think of a more compelling example of post-traumatic growth than Chessy Prout. Her inspiring journey from victim to survivor to thriver and impassioned advocate contains all the elements of successful trauma recovery.
Refinery29: Really moving
I Have The Right To made these Lit Lists
New York Public Library: Best Books of 2018
School Library Journal: Best Books of 2018
Bustle: Women who are changing the world through books
Publisher’s Weekly: YA 2018 Booklist: The Revolution Will Be Anthologized. A new crop of books aim to inspire teen activists
Bustle: Nonfiction books to help you understand EXACTLY what consent means
Learn more about Chessy's story and advocacy work here: