North Carolina beauty queen raises awareness about sexual assault

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than 11 percent of college students experience sexual assault on campus, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

North Carolina beauty queen Rose Brown falls into that percentage.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte student says her once low self-esteem from years of bullying led her to unhealthy friendships. She said one night during her sophomore year, someone she thought she could trust violated her.

“I was telling him to stop and I was saying ‘no,’ my body just froze, I didn't feel like I could move, didn't feel like I could get up and go anywhere," said Brown.

Feeling scared and confused by what happened, Brown didn't report it right away. She also didn't go to the hospital, so there was no rape kit to use as proof.

Police eventually told her there was nothing they could do. The trauma impacted her life greatly and concentrating in class became impossible.

"Having symptoms of that day in and day out at school impacted me greatly, my grades dropped drastically," said Brown.

After seeking help through therapy, Brown decided she needed to take her life back. She turned to pageantry as a form of therapy.

"You have to be your absolute best self and not only do you have to convince the judges of that, but you have to convince yourself of that," said Brown.

She now uses her newfound confidence and her platform to speak out about bullying and sexual assault, making it her goal to help others who feel alone.

As Brown continues to use her platform to bring awareness, she also plans to make that platform bigger by educating herself.

This fall, she will attend the University of Pennsylvania to get her masters in non-profit leadership.