We've Got To Do Better For Our Sexual Assault Victims

We've Got To Do Better For Our Sexual Assault Victims

"As far as whether I was satisfied with the outcome, it's hard to say. I felt like I was known as either a victim or a crazy person for a long time."

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College: the time in which a young person can spread their wings and begin the journey of finding out who they are meant to be. It is in fact, probably the first time most are on their own.

It can be an exciting time; students are given more responsibility and really feel in charge of their lives. They make lifelong friendships, have late night adventures, and eventually graduate to get a degree in their chosen field.

When it comes to the well-being of students, parents easily put their trust in their child's university, and I understand why parents would do that. After all, it is not unreasonable to have the expectation that universities will ultimately protect their students who have been victimized, especially after an investigation was conducted and the perpetrator had been found guilty.

An Evangel University student, who will remain anonymous, was assaulted by another student. Her relationship was abusive; she was pushed to do things that she did not feel comfortable doing.

She said no. She pushed him off. Yet, he continued. She stayed in the relationship even though she had a difficult time trusting him. At this point, you could be asking yourself why she didn't leave.

She didn't leave because of the fear of what life would be like without him; she didn't want to believe that he was as bad as his actions portrayed him to be. That is the thing with guys like him; they break down your walls, manipulate you to believe that you are nothing without them; they keep you hanging on in some way or another.

Finally, almost a year later, and much prayer and consideration, she decided to report it to the school. She said that the school was helpful and understanding in the process.

A Title IX investigation was conducted and he was ultimately found guilty. The administration decided not to suspend him, and he was allowed to stay on campus the following summer.

After all of this, she was told that she needed to stay quiet about what had happened; it was something she kept to herself until she felt she no longer could. She sought wisdom and guidance from our counselors and our campus pastor and they were so helpful during this time.

Today, while she is not fully healed, she can say that the Lord has guided her through this and that whatever consequences come to her perpetrator she believes will come from the Lord. While she is continually healing from this event, her goal moving forward is to champion on other women that have or have not been through something like this. While this is something that no college student should have to experience, she firmly believes that because of this experience she is able to relate to other women who have gone through this.

Yes, she had the support of her counselor and our campus pastor, but she was mostly left to pick up the pieces knowing that the university had done everything that they were going to. She truly deserved better. She didn't deserve to feel like she was a crazy person. She deserved to have someone truly take her seriously.

The thing is, this is not the first time sexual assault on my college campus has been mishandled. I know of at least one person per year over the last four years who reported sexual assault and it was mishandled. Chances are everyone on campus knows someone who has been victimized, whether they realize it or not.

At the end of the day, all I really want is for my university to do better. It's not a perfect university and nor am I asking it to be one; all I am asking is for them to do better.

I just want to say a huge thank you to the brave person who allowed me to write this. Your courage and willingness to speak out inspires me constantly. I am so proud of you, and if anyone else who has been through this. You did not deserve what happened to you or the way that you were treated afterward.

If you have been affected by this, there are lots of great resources you can connect with

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-4673. If you have been victimized, please do not hesitate to reach out to a friend or by calling The National Sexual Assault Hotline. If you don't feel comfortable reaching out to a friend just yet, that is perfectly okay.

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A Feminist Critique Of The #MeToo Movement's Blindspot

I'm a feminist, but here is my problem with #MeToo.

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The recent discussion of sexual violence in American society has sparked a fiery debate over how to create change for women everywhere. A topic which was once a whisper in the back of the room has become a national discussion of women's rights. But what about the rampant sexual violence towards Native American women? There is no #MeToo conversation inclusive of the atrocities which Native American women are facing.

Society has been so focused on a relatable narrative when creating #MeToo, that America has completely sidelined and consequently exacerbated the issues of the Native American community. Just because the poverty which Natives face is not relatable in the way the middle and upper-middle class stories of #MeToo are, does not mean that the stories of the more powerful are the only ones worth listening to.

According to Amnesty International, Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual violence, yet there seems to be no hashtag or mass movement inclusive of them. These high rates of sexual violence, mixed with low rates of prosecution, have created a vicious and shocking cycle of violence on reservations. The severe sexual violence being experienced by Native American women is a widespread and pressing issue that is lacking proper attention and legislative action and it's truly appalling.

In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 94% of the nearly 300 Native American women surveyed reported being raped in their lives. This figure is absolutely terrifying. To put this into a more local context, the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona has had "more rapes [between 2008-2014] reported than in San Diego, Detroit or Denver," according to FBI's reports. This issue has plagued Natives for generations but remains overlooked and undiscussed by the majority of Americans. The #MeToo discussion revolves the idea of a relatable platform, but just because poverty isn't relatable does not entail that those in poverty should not receive justice. It's baffling how an issue can be this salient to one group of people yet go completely unnoticed by another.

To break the issue down, tribal courts have several large obstacles preventing them from acting as an effective means of justice. The main difficulty is the inability to prosecute non-Natives. Even though in "86% of the reported cases of rape against American Indian women, survivors report non-Native perpetrators,” justice cannot be served because tribes don't have the jurisdiction to prosecute. One can only imagine the frustration of a minority group which cannot receive justice in the face of a more socioeconomically powerful perpetrator.

Most recently, the Violence Against Women's Act of 1994 created an amendment in 2013 to give tribal courts the right to prosecute non-Natives who committ domestic and dating violence. This amendment fails to take into consideration however, that most rape cases against Native women are not domestic or dating violence. It seems inconceivable how such injustice is occurring but the media and movements like #MeToo simply aren't aware of it. In order to affect change for women everywhere, everyone's issues must be accounted for, even if issue of those in poverty aren't "relatable."

In the search for justice, tribes often send cases they do have jurisdiction over to U.S. Justice Department. In his New York Times Article, Timothy Williams cites that the Justice Department however did not pursue 65% of rape charges on reservations and 61% of cases involving the sexual abuse of Native children in 2012. So, while Native American women are two and a half times more likely to be raped, only one-third of them have a chance at receiving the justice they deserve. It almost feels as though it comes from a place of elitism that there are very few cases in which Natives can receive justice because they don't have jurisdiction over a seemingly untouchable group of richer people.

Sexual violence and the lack of prosecution to address it in the Native American community is a crisis which will never improve if continued to be left alone. Nothing will change until tribal courts have the power to fully enact law and order in their communities. It's been shown that the U.S. Justice Department ignores the issue and the U.S. public is unaware that this is even happening. With the current efforts which are being made to empower and protect women, American society has gotten lost in framing the issue to be relatable to the point where they have forgotten an entire group of people.

Until the public has been made aware of the severity of this issue, no legislation will be passed to help these women and the elitist injustice will continue. #MeToo is meant to give a voice to victims of sexual violence, but this mission will never be successful until the plight of Native American women has been heard.

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Cavaliers Nab National Championship After Heartbreak

"If you learn to use it right, the adversity, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn't have gone any other way." — UVA Coach Tony Bennet

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One year and 23 days is all it took for the University of Virginia Men's Basketball team to earn a glorious redemption. The journey along the way was accompanied by many tears, heartache, dedication, hard work, and amazing coaching.

After a devastating loss to a number 16 seed team, UMBC, just over a year ago, the UVA Men's Basketball team took a hard hit; and not just from their pride and spirit from such a devastating loss, but also from the outside world. They became the first number one seed to lose to a number 16 seed in NCAA history. In a 'Sports Illustrated' article done by Andy Staples, he wrote a moving piece on Kyle Guy, Virginia's point guard. Guy became the face of the loss due to the image of him hanging his head in shame, while UMBC celebrates their victory on the court. After this image became viral, Guy became the face for Virginia's historical and upsetting loss. In the article, he expressed how this loss affected him and his teammates in more ways than one. He addressed his struggles with anxiety, especially after such a major loss. He relied heavily on his fiancé, family, team and coaches during this difficult time.

Guy shared that what happened on the court, was then haunting them in their everyday lives. After that historical game, outsiders and "fans" began to threaten them. Minutes after the loss, he shared that the players had to have police escort them back to their hotel because they were receiving death threats. With concerns from loved ones, Guy shared a touching conversation with his mother, Katy Fitzgerald. She had asked him how he was doing; he responded with: "A bend in the road isn't the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn." Her response was, "What if I told you not to worry, because when you feel like you're drowning, fear not, your lifeguard walks on water."

After a lot of late-night practices, continuous support, never-ending dedication and much-needed recovery, these men came back and fought even harder; not letting their past define them. They became a new team and won another ACC regular-season title and earn another number one seed. The 2018 tournament loss was a driving force of motivation for this team for the 2019 tournament, and for anyone who watched the NCAA National Championship game, their motivation and determination showed. Virginia beat number three seed, Texas Tech in overtime, 85-77. The Virginia Men's Basketball team came back stronger than ever and won it all.

I would call them a team, but it is very clear these gentlemen are more like a family. Through the continuous support, appreciation and love they show for each other; they are truly an inspiring group of men. This is an inspiring story of the journey of life not always being easy, but definitely being well worth it. These athletes took one of life's sourest lemons and truly turned it into some very sweet lemonade, and that is a lesson worth remembering.

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