Ask a World Class Ballerina & Sexual Assault Survivor

Lissa Curtis on YAM

Tom Littrell
YAM News
Published in
3 min readFeb 22, 2017

I discovered Lissa not through her fantastic work as a professional dancer but through her haunting experience as a survivor of sexual assault. Her story is meticulously recorded in Boston Magazine and by Buzzfeed’s Jessica Luther. After a traumatizing trip to Romania, her legal battle continues in a suit with her perpatrator and former dance instructor.

While media coverage of Lissa was extensive, reading about her tribulations hardly did her story justice. Photographs only showed one angle of truth. Videos were beautifully distant. I wanted to know more about Lissa — to tease out the particularities of two colliding subjects I knew little about.

Humans are unique by nature; and after reading the terrifying story of a ballerina who went off to pursue her dreams only to be hit by the unequivocally evil experience of sexual assault, I had to know more. So I invited her to YAM.

Lissa hopped on the budding social platform and started taking questions straight away.

Her answers were direct, sincere, and personal — no other platform has achieved quite that effect. The feeling derived from asking her questions and having them so astutely answered is one I’ve felt in college after hearing particular lectures. At times, a guest lecturer would give such an awe-inspiring address that I’d scurry to the front to meet them afterwards.

To have read Lissa’s incredible story and follow-up soon after gave a sense of completeness to my curiosity of her journey; also a means to continue connection and inquiry.

Lissa’s Be BRAVE on TEDx

Before I came across Jessica Luther’s story, I had only preconceptions of what sexual assault cases really entailed. Now I have a direct source for queries regarding that stifling subject and a well of inspiration on what it truly means to be brave. I am a firm believer that all people are unique through their varied environments and experiences — Lissa’s story strongly reinforces this.

It is indesputable that more than 20% of women are sexually assaulted. It is also apparent that ballerinas grace hundreds of dance halls across the globe. How many have endured both of these trying affairs? And of those, how many have created a remarkable campaign to protect and inform future generations? Whether one identifies as an aficionado of ballet or activist against assault does not hinder the ability for any curious mind to delve into these topics and the wide range of information about them.

Lissa Curtis’s story appealed to me for its stark representation of humanity. It appealed to me for its hope and wisdom and fear turned to fervor.

I hope you take the opportunity to ask a world class ballerina and sexual assault survivor your own questions so you too may learn and be inspired by such a valiant woman. I invite you to ask Lissa Curtis on YAM.



Tom Littrell
YAM News