New Mexico students speak out against sexual assault

PORTALES N.M. (KRQE) – It was an emotional scene at Eastern New Mexico University as students shared their personal stories of how they’ve been sexually assaulted.

They want everyone to know how serious the problem is and they want their school to start making some changes.

Rhiannon Barela fought through her tears Tuesday night as she addressed the students of Eastern New Mexico University at an emergency meeting to raise awareness about sexual assault.

Barela says she was assaulted just two months ago on campus by another student.

“You hurt so bad that you don’t know what to feel, you don’t feel anything,” said Barela.

Others shared their stories as well, hoping to bring the issue to light.

“I’m tired of being called a victim, I am a survivor, not a victim, everything that happened to me happened for a reason and this happened because I was chosen to make a difference in this world,” said Marina Merritt.

Some students have criticized the school for not doing enough to stop the problem.

ENMU Student Vice President Joshua Alvarez wanted everyone to know they can come forward for help.

“The students that we have here, we’re a family, if one student is hurting then we all hurt and the reason why we did this is to start a movement to the State of New Mexico saying hey sexual assault should be taken more seriously,” said Alvarez.

As for Barela, she says she’s speaking out for victims who are too afraid to speak for themselves.

“It’s not okay, it shouldn’t continue, and I know I can’t stop it, but I promise you I will make a change. I promise you,” said Barela.

At the meeting, the students senate discussed installing blue light phones that connect to campus police like they have at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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