An Assault, An Anniversary, A Cry: The Story Of My Sexual Assault

An Assault, An Anniversary, A Cry: The Story Of My Sexual Assault

It's time for my story to be heard
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October 29, 2012 will feel like yesterday for the rest of my life.  There are people who are going to hate me for writing this story, and there are people who hate me for the fact that this story had to be written.

But this story needs to be written. It's been begging to be let out, crawling slowly and not so quietly, waiting for the right time to reveal itself. Just like a beast. And that's kind of what this story is. 

Many of us have an “It’ll never happen to me,” attitude towards life.

“I’ll never be the one to get a ticket while jaywalking." 

“I’m not going to be busted for drinking in my dorm room.” 

“There’s no way I would get mugged walking through the city at 2a.m.” 

Or “I’m not going to get raped." 

I had this attitude and most of my friends still do. I had this attitude until the last thing on that list happened to me.  

A lot of people are probably picturing me wandering through campus in the early hours of the morning, alone and vulnerable. Getting pulled off the street by a stranger and abused. That would be wrong, and it’s an unfortunately common misconception. What I actually think is scarier is that over 80 percent of college sexual assault survivors know their perpetrator. They are “friends," classmates, and neighbors. I’m a part of that 80 percent.  

I am going to clarify right now that any decision I made that night leading up to the incident did not justify what happened. That is something that has taken me a while to understand. I put myself in that location with that person but it did not give him a right to do what he did to me. No one ever has the right to violate you.   

Something else you may be thinking is, “was there alcohol involved?” On my end, yes. On his end, admittedly no. That put him in a position of advantage, and ultimately a position of power. Being sober and perfectly capable of recognizing the situation before him. What happened was a conscious choice on his part. And it was not an option for me. Universities and governments struggle with the definition and application of consent. There is muddled terminology and there are so many conflicting views. I can tell you, however, that you cannot give consent when you are slipping in and out of consciousness. This I know.   

The details of the incident do not matter. What matters is the acknowledgment of this as a story that too many college students- both male and female- could share from a firsthand account.   

Six months later, I began the process of recognizing what had happened. That’s another thing that a lot of people don’t understand; it takes a hell of a long time to admit it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever accept it. It may sound simple for an outsider to tell me I should have just reported it or dealt with it sooner. Do you know what it’s like to have to call your mom and tell her what happened to you? To place your pain on the people who brought you into this world and would do anything to go back and save you from what happened? Now tell me I should have just reported it earlier.   

Was I scared? Yes. Was I embarrassed? In the strangest way, I was. I was afraid that I would be looked down on and that I would be shamed and blamed. Has that happened? Unfortunately, yes. But the only way out is through, and I see that light at the end.  

Do you know what happens when you report things like this? Best-case scenario, you get the support you need and everything is fair and just. I lost faith in my university when I went through the process with them. On both sides, they lacked support. They neglected to provide both parties with information in a timely manner. The summer of 2013 was the longest by far, and for all the wrong reasons. Sitting in front of a panel for four hours during a hearing at the end of July was nothing short of terrifying. I felt alone, raw, and full of unknowns.   

When the things that aren’t supposed to happen to you do in fact happen to you, you realize who is really there for you. Some amazing people came through for me. Some others backed out of my life. A lot of lessons on trust and loyalty came from this experience. I’ve learned to be thankful for the lessons in life that I have gained through something so negative.   

When in the past few months have you gone on social media or turned on the news, and not seen a report about sexual assault and the law, the military, colleges, the White House or Greek life? I share this story with too many people. It scares me to understand how all of those people feel. It scares me that they know what it’s like for me. One person experiencing this is too many. It’s everywhere. It’s a hot topic. It’s being talked about.   

I’m talking about it.   

This is a cry for universities to amend their policies. This is a cry for people not to push someone to report too quickly. This is a cry for police and legal officers to recognize the great steps one takes when they do report.   

This is a cry for everyone who has experienced this to stand up and be strong, to be a survivor, and to never be labeled as a victim.   

Two years ago on October 29th, and now I have the control. I have made the conscious choice to use my experience to educate, to advocate, and to make change. I admit and accept that what happened is a huge part of me. But through all the adversity, the fights, the bureaucracy, the panic, and the late nights, I know in my heart I have come out on top and stronger than ever. 

Because I will never let it define me. 

Cover Image Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel_(pedestrian_underpass_in_Tbilisi).jpg

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A Thank You Letter To My Best Friend

All the things I should thank you for more often than I do.
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To My Best Friend,

This thank you is long overdue. There are so many things I want to thank you for, and I’m sure I’m going to still be missing some by the end of this letter. But here is a small token of my gratitude for just being by my side in this life and making it all worthwhile.

Thank you first of all for accepting me and loving me for exactly who I am. This isn’t easy. I can be stubborn, difficult and confusing, but you love and accept me for me. There are days I wonder when you’ll finally come to your senses and move on and find a new BFF, one who isn’t so complicated, but to my amazement, you never do. You tell me you’ll take the good with the bad, and when I question whether I have any good left, you’re always there to reassure me and show me that I do. Thank you for loving me in my dorky and difficult moments, moments where if the rest of the world saw them, they’d probably walk away. Thank you for understanding me like no one else does; if we didn’t have the connection we did, I can’t imagine how lonely and big this world would feel. Because of you, this world seems like a little friendlier place, one I can see myself being a part of.

Thank you for being my biggest fan. Besides my family, you are my biggest supporter, and I know that when I win, you win, and when you win, I win. In this battle we call life, it doesn’t matter who’s in my opponents corner, because I know I am always going to have you in mine, and that’s the best asset I could ever ask for. You encourage me to chase my dreams like no one else does, and I can tell that you sincerely hurt when I hurt — not many people care about me in such a deep way. Whatever crazy dream I tell you I’m going to chase after next, you believe I can do it, even when the rest of the world thinks I’m crazy for even suggesting it. When something good happens, you’re the first person I want to tell, and when something bad happens, you’re the first one I go to for support.

Thank you for being you. You are incredible my dear, and I can’t wait to constantly remind your husband that he got crazy lucky and out kicked his coverage big time. You are beautiful inside and out. On the outside, you are so gorgeous; you’re very own unique and incredible definition of beauty, and I know I’m one of many who see it. You’re intimidating to stand next to in pictures because I know your light shines so bright, but I’ll gladly stand next to you and take a picture, because I’m so excited to show the world how breathtakingly beautiful my best friend is. On the inside you are even prettier, with a warm heart, a sharp mind and an unbelievable personality. You are hands down the funniest person I know, and I still can’t believe that someone as funny and hilarious as you chooses to spend her time with someone as dweeby and awkward as me. I mean, half the time we’re laughing at some fail I had or something stupid I did, so I guess I contribute a little bit to our constant laughing. You are so kind and so sweet, and have the biggest heart of anyone I know. God spent a little extra time when he made you, because you’re the total package: you’re beautiful, awesome and amazing, all wrapped in one, and I’m so lucky he put you in my life—he knows I’d be lost without you.

Thank you for being there for me whenever I need it. It was once said that “all that relationships are are being there for someone when they need you,” and you’re a pro at this. Whether it be because another boy is being stupid or I’m feeling alone, I know all I need to do is call you, and I’ll instantly feel better. You help my through the countless problems Lord knows I have trouble solving, and you reassure me that no matter what, you’re always going to be there for me. This is huge, and something very few people have been able to do for me, but you always have, and I know you always will be. And that is the most reassuring thing I know, knowing that if all hell breaks loose, the world falls apart and I have no one, I’ll have you. And that is all I need.

Thank you for being a spark, a light in my life that no matter how dark the world around us gets, is always there to light my way and show me the way home. Thank you for laughing with me when God blesses us with a funny moment, and crying with me when God is trying to tell me something. Thank you for standing beside me in the greatest of moments and the darkest of hours. Thank you for being the one I share my fondest memories with: all the nights we stayed up really late, all the exciting adventures we went on and all the inside jokes we still laugh about today. Thank you for growing up with me; for being there every step of the way and creating some of my happiest moments with me. Thank you for all the memories I've shared with you, and I can't wait for what crazy adventure we're going to go on next.

So thank you for accepting me, loving me, and supporting me. Thank you for being your wonderful self, and thank you for being there for me, through thick and thin, even when I'm at my lowest. Thank you for shining your brilliant light into my life and illuminating my world.

Oh, and thank you for being my maid of honor. I know I won’t need to ask you for a while, but you had to know it was coming, right?

Thank you for being the godmother to my future children, the sister to my family, and another daughter to my parents.

And finally, thank you for being the best to my friend.

Cover Image Credit: EnkiVillage

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Teens Started A #IfIDieInASchoolShooting Trend On Twitter, Because This Is The World We Live In Now

Because the truth is, school shootings have become so prevalent in America that children of all ages see them as inevitable.
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Last Friday, a gunman killed ten people in a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. So far in the 20 weeks of 2018, there have been 22 school shootings in America, which averages to about one school shooting per week.

With social awareness involving gun violence increasing since the Parkland shooting in February, the narrative has shifted to include vocal and active teens who have pressed lawmakers for forms of gun control. These teens have organized marches around the country and called out politicians who have ties with the NRA.

Because the truth is that school shootings have become so prevalent in American society that children of all ages see them as inevitable.

After Friday's shooting American teens took to Twitter to talk about the inaction of lawmakers and the cycle of violence that threatens their lives everyday.

The hashtag #IfIDieInASchoolShooting voices the final wishes, fears, and unachieved dreams of teenagers if their lives were to be shot down in a classroom.

Many wanted their deaths to push the conversation for gun control forward:

Others were aware of how their future would be cut short:

Or that, in the end, their lives would make little impact to prevent future tragedies:

And teens who have already been affected by gun violence remember those they lost:

There was a heartbreaking moment during the aftermath of Friday's shooting in which a student was asked if she thought something as momentous as this would ever happen at her school.

Her eyes downcast and her voice shaking with shock, she let out a small sound of exasperation. "No," she said. "It's been happening everywhere. I always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here too."

We are no longer surprised.

School shootings are regular fixtures in our news feeds. We comment on the tragedy and look on as politicians make excuses and fix nothing.

The fact that children in America know that they might be murdered in their classrooms is inexcusable. No child should ever have to fear for their life or plan their eulogy. Change is desperately needed, and we can no longer afford to forget.

Cover Image Credit: Twitter

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