BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After a loved one became a victim of sexual assault, a Maryland family has made it their mission to prevent it among teens.

Five years ago, Erin Levitas died from cancer at age 22. A senior in college, Levitas was about to head to law school when she learned of her terminal diagnosis.

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Her mom Wende remembers what bothered Levitas most during her final days.

“She said, ‘I’m not going to be able to do the work I’ve wanted to do and help people, and the only thing that’s keeping me awake and crying are my night terrors from my rape,” Wende recalled her daughter saying.

Levitas made it her mission to help other sexual assault survivors, but cancer got in the way.

“She eventually passed away from cancer, and so she passed the baton to us, her family,” Levitas’ cousin Marissa Jachman said.

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The family created the Erin Levitas Foundation to honor her memory and to make sure the work she wanted to see in the world could happen: working with teens and young adults to prevent sexual assault.

“Kids are learning things like boundaries and healthy relationships, consent early on so those later more harmful things don’t happen,” Jachman said.

The work brings Levitas’ legacy to life.

“She powers us on, you know, making sure that survivors are supported and that children grow up not feeling the pain that she felt,” Jachman said.

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To learn more about the foundation, click here.

Annie Rose Ramos