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Vanderbilt Grad Hopes to Help Sexual Assault Victims - John Dunn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - One recent Vanderbilt University graduate is working hard to create a safe haven for victims. Sarah O'Brien has an ambitious goal that was born out of her own experience as a sexual assault survivor.

College years are normally full of good friends and great memories, but Sarah O'Brien remembers a difficult experience. "That moment changed my life, it changed my college experience, it really affects me today," says Sarah O'Brien.

O'Brien was the victim of a sexual assault in 2010, and it has taken years for her to recover. Last year she and fellow Vanderbilt students filed a complaint with federal officials about how Vanderbilt responds to sexual assaults.

O'Brien says rape on college campuses is a serious problem and victims need real help. "It's really important for women who I will be working with to know that you aren't alone," says O'Brien.

After graduating in December, O'Brien now devotes her attention to a new mission. It's called "Dara House." She describes it as a healing home where college-aged women can live and recover together from sexual violence. Women would be access to yoga, therapy, art, and various other aspects of healing. "I want every survivor of sexual assault to not feel like a victim anymore, and to feel supported and loved and cared for," says O'Brien.

O'Brien's friends and supporters say they can see her determination to make a difference. "When she has a project or an idea, she goes all out and makes it happen," says friend Sebastian Rogers.

Dara House is now raising money online to provide its free services to women. In the first four days of her first campaign, O'Brien met her $3,000 goal to begin applying for non-profit status.

She has put off grad school for a new dream. She wants to help others who are just like her. "And I want every survivor of sexual assault to not feel like a victim anymore, and to feel supported and loved and cared for," says O'Brien.

Sarah O'Brien hopes to open Dara House by January of next year.  If you'd like to help her fundraising effort click here.

For news updates follow John Dunn on twitter @WZTVJohnDunn

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