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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8 Questions With Lilia Tarawa As To How She Escaped From Gloriavale, A Religious Cult

Lilia Tarawa's childhood home, Gloriavale Christian Community, seemed like a dream as a child. As she grew up, she came to understand the silent and deadly grip of oppression and a lack of freedom in this religious cult. Here is the story of how she escaped her past.
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Lilia Tarawa's childhood home, Gloriavale Christian Community, seemed like a dream as a child. As she grew up, she came to understand the silent and deadly grip of oppression and a lack of freedom in this religious cult. Here is the story of how she escaped her past.


1. How did your family end up in a remote place in New Zealand, and how did Gloriavale start?

"My grandfather actually started it. He was Christian, and he was traveling over the remote parts of Australia by plane, and [he] was called 'The Flying Evangelist' to teach the gospel of Christ. He was really famous, really well-known… so he was invited to New Zealand in order to preach at the churches [here].

"He brought his wife and kids over from Australia. He then became a pastor for a church here, right on the outskirts of Christchurch. He then had a falling out with another pastor, there was a church split, so he took half the church and the other pastor kept the [other] half of the church. So that’s how Gloriavale kind of started, on the outskirts of Christchurch in this area called the Springbank Christian Community. The members of his part of the Church followed him, and he split off from that church."

2. What was the most chilling part of being in Gloriavale, other than the anecdote you mentioned in your TED talk?

"It’s the amount of control they have over your life. You have no fundamental rights and no choices. I wasn’t allowed to choose what I would wear, who I would marry, how many babies I would have, what career I would have… I had to wear a blue uniform all of my life (a blue headscarf), I had to marry a person the ladies [Gloriavale’s community of leading ladies] chose for me, I was only allowed to work in domestic duties such as cook, cleaner or a preschool teacher. There were some jobs women could do in the offices, so I could do those."

"But like, I wasn’t allowed off the premises unless I had the permission of the leader. I wasn’t allowed to listen to music that was not vetted by the leaders. I wasn’t allowed to watch any movies that weren’t vetted, edited by the leaders to remove anything that wasn’t appropriate. I had no rights, and it’s very… You live in a shell of the person that you are… and you see things happening that are wrong, and you know [those things] shouldn’t be happening, but you can’t do anything about it because you’re like a robot. You always have this sense of like something’s not quite right, and I don’t know what it is. But because I don’t have my freedom of speech or thought, I’m not even allowed to question it."

3. How do you think that has affected your life today? Getting away from the community and being able to live with these new freedoms?

"Hugely. My cousin left a few weeks… and she messaged me on Facebook messenger: 'Hey Lil, guess who it is?' and it’s like 'Wow, I haven’t seen you for like eight years!' And she’s showing me pictures like… here’s my husband, here’s my baby… and then I started asking her about girls who were in my class back in Gloriavale… how’s Bethany doing? How’s Mary doing? Because I wanted to know, these girls were my childhood friends, and she was like… she’s married and she’s got four children, or like, she’s also married, she’s got like 3 children, and she’s working in the office.

"And I’m just like thinking, here I am. Same grade, same school as these girls. I am a business owner, a writer, a feminist, a leader.. I’m traveling the world, I’m speaking out against religion, I’m an agnostic, leaning towards atheist. Like, I’m everything Gloriavale despises in a woman. And I’m nothing like all those girls in my class are. In another world, in a previous world, I would have been married, have four to five children by now, and [I’d be] working as a domestic slave in Gloriavale."

"And I guess now because of this opportunity, I have to do the most that I can of it. It’s like my duty to Gloriavale."

4. So it's given you a new sense of purpose, getting away from that environment at Gloriavale?

"Totally. And because I have witnessed so much, and [now it’s like] I’m racing to issues in the world, like sexism and discrimination and especially the way that religion is impacting us as a society. How religion has impacted us in history because I’ve been on the receiving end of religious beatings (so to say)."

5. What were some specific moments that seem outrageous in hindsight? What is a defining memory of Gloriavale that makes you wonder, "Wow, I can't believe that happened to me?"

"The whole thing?" she laughs.

"But honestly, I wake up, and I cannot believe I used to live there. Like it was one point in my life, not too long ago, that was my reality. That’s not the overwhelming crazy things, memories that you take with you… it’s the everyday. I woke up, I put on a uniform every day, I prayed every single day. I praised the leaders every single day. I ate with 500 people, in a mess hall, every single day. I lived in one bedroom, in a hostel with my family, every single day. It’s the whole thing that as an adult woman, as a free spirit, I look back on and I think 'Holy sh*t.'"

6. How has the paradigm shifted through your everyday life?

"When you change the way that you look at the world, it changes everything in your life. It changes the choices you make… when you choose the people you want to date, when you choose your sexuality, when you choose your career, when you choose anything, it’s all affected by the experiences you’ve been through as a child."

7. When I was watching your TED talk, one burning question I had was about how you got out from Gloriavale. How did you escape and what did you learn from it? How did you even manage to leave such a society?

"Well, my parents were very prominent in the church community. My dad was one of the… they called them 'servants.' They’re a group of men that act like a board of directors for a company. My dad was one of those men. My mom was one of the highest-ranking women in Gloriavale because she was the only woman in Gloriavale that held a prominent leadership position. So, we called her the housemother*/housemaster because she looked over all of the women’s realm and handled money for the budget for food, concerts, clothing, etc.

"When I was really young, my siblings both left. They ran away when they were 15. Later on in life, my younger brother decided he wanted to leave, too, and my parents thought 'Gosh, we can’t let this happen again. We can’t lose another one of our children.'

"So [my parents] went to the leaders and somehow persuaded them to give us a duration where our family was living on the outside but also inside the border of Gloriavale. This was the first time it happened [in the history of Gloriavale]. So we were living in a house about 40 minutes outside of Gloriavale, in a lakeside town called Moana. And we were going there every night to eat dinner as a family, sleep, but then during the day, we’d go back to Gloriavale, put the uniform/headscarf on, do our duties, go to school… so we were living that way for about 18 months, and it was all kind of coming. We knew the leaders wouldn’t allow us to live that way. They wanted my siblings to return to the church. But it was actually starting to work the other way.

"We as a family were starting to experience this new taste of freedom. By living in Moana, we were actually able to isolate ourselves against some of the teachings and brainwashings of Gloriavale. So, eventually, we made a decision that we would leave.

"It was a Sunday. Back in Gloriavale on Sundays, we would bring our beds down after the afternoon prayer session, so everyone was sleeping. And my dad said to me, 'Keep the kids in the bedroom and wait here. Be ready to go at a moment’s notice.' So, I hid the kids while my mum was at our other house in Moana.

"So Dad went to a leaders’ meeting to ask them for permission to bless our family so then we could leave. And he was there for a long time, quite a few hours. I was starting to get worried, so I ran outside and saw him coming towards me. I saw him crying. And I’d never seen my dad crying in my life. And I ran to him, and asked him, 'What is happening?' and he says, 'Get those kids in the car right now.'

"So I then was packed in the back… there was this back big porch where they brought all the groceries when they shipped them in from town. So we ran to my family’s room, we packed up the kids, I put them in the car, strapped them all in, and then I said to my dad, 'I just need to do one more thing.'

"I ran back to my cousin’s room, and they lived right beside me. I was pretty close to my cousins; they were like siblings to me. And I just hugged them and I said, 'I love you so much. See you tonight at the meeting,' except I wasn’t going to the meeting. And so, after that I ran across the ranch to the van, and we drove out down the driveway. I looked back at the compound, and I thought, “This is the last time I’m going to see this place” and we were gone. So we went back to Moana, we changed into worldly clothes. So I put on pants, and I thought, 'Wow. This is really happening. I’m wearing pants!' And then we drove over to Christchurch."

What was the biggest lesson you learned from getting away from Gloriavale?

"Probably the biggest lesson that I learned is that sometimes you have to pay a really high price for freedom, and you have to sacrifice a lot. I had to sacrifice life as I knew it, the roof over my head, the clothes on my back, the friendships that I had, the lives I had known for all of my life, I had to let all of that go to have something different, to have freedom.

"Also that: it’s more important for you to honor your own beliefs, and do what you think is right, no matter what everyone and your society says to you. Because everyone at Gloriavale, they all thought we were wrong for leaving. But we weren’t. It was the right thing for us to do. It’s the same thing that applies to the world out here. Sometimes, doing what’s right can actually feel like it’s not that right because so many people around you are stuck in their ways or still have rigid beliefs. So I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to do what’s right."


Stay tuned for part two of Lilia's interview to find out how she adapted to her new life as a free woman.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube / TED

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No UNC Residence Hall Is The Same, So I've Provided Pros And Cons For The Top 5 First-Year Halls

Did yours make the cut?

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Residence halls are a big (and sometimes dreaded) part of the first-year experience at UNC-Chapel Hill. Honestly, though, life in the residence halls is nothing to dread. It's not perfect, but it can definitely be fun.

Beyond the convenient proximity of other first-years in the different residence halls, your social life may also benefit from UNC Housing's many community events. You get a lot of community support, too—your RA, your suite-/hallmates, your community director, and hopefully your roommate.

What about the buildings themselves, though? They're definitely not all the same. The following is a definitive list of the best five residence halls for first-years on UNC's campus.

5. Craige

http://reslife.web.unc.edu/2015/06/01/the-view-from-craige/

Pros: This residence hall is suite-style, which means there are four double rooms (i.e. eight residents per suite) and one bathroom—arguably better than sharing a larger bathroom with 20 more residents in a hall-style dorm. More privacy, a better chance of bonding with those seven other students, etc.. If you're interested in UNC basketball (and you should be, honestly), you'll be happy to know this residence hall is right up the road from the Dean Smith Center. It's also nestled into a quaint little grove of trees, which is cute.

Cons: This residence hall is (somewhat affectionately) known as Crusty Craige, and not without reason (according to previous residents). While it is in a nice location, it's still a good trek from main campus—the hill from Craige up to Manning is killer on one side, and that's just the beginning of the walk. Since the residence hall is only six floors high (and is mostly surrounded by short trees), the view isn't as impressive as that of, say, Hinton James' balconies.

4. Lewis

https://conferences.unc.edu/lodging/residence-halls/lewis-residence-hall/

Coming in at number four, Lewis is the only residence hall on this list that isn't located on South Campus.

Pros: This building does have laundry facilities, unlike some of the other residence halls on North Campus. Also, it is a remarkable one-minute walk from the student union and Davis Library, meaning you aren't nearly as likely to get lost during your first week (at least, on your way to the Pit—class buildings are a whole other story). I cannot stress this enough: it is super convenient to live so close to main campus.

Cons: You miss out on the first-year experience of living on South Campus, where most first-years begin their UNC journey. Also, there are typically less than 100 other residents in Lewis, which limits the number of people with whom you can bond during your first year (when you'll likely be the most focused on building your college network). That also means less RAs and smaller hall events. Also, it's a hall-style residence hall (this is a debatable con, though, since some people would definitely prefer hall-style over suite-style).

3. Koury

https://unc.freshu.io/melissa-cordell-751/best-freshmen-dorm-to-live-in

Pros: Koury is pretty close to the SASB buildings, which are full of great resources for first-years (namely the Learning and Writing Centers, where you can receive free tutoring, academic coaching, and feedback on your essays). There are internal suites, which means that only three other residents will be sharing a bathroom with you. This means you can furnish the bathroom with whatever rugs or trash cans you prefer, and you have a lot more privacy than in other residence halls, as far as the bathroom goes.

Cons: Since the bathroom is between the two double bedrooms, you have to clean the bathroom yourself, as well as provide your own toilet paper—the flip side of enhanced privacy is that you don't get custodial services. Also, with the internal suites, sometimes it can be more difficult to socialize with other people on the hall (although your RA is there to solve that problem!). Lastly, if you walk out of your room and forget your key, you're locked out—the door locks automatically upon shutting.

2. Hinton James

https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2017/07/hinton-james-leaves-a-legend-and-a-legacy-in-uncs-most-populated-dorm

Maybe I'm biased—Hojo was my own first-year res hall. I'm sure someone will fight me on this, but I really enjoyed living there.

Pros: There are tons of people, which means there's a good chance you'll find some friends near your room. It's a suite-style dorm, so obviously, the suite-style advantages of Craige apply here as well. Also, there is a package center located on the first floor, so you don't have to trek to some other residence hall to pick up your latest Amazon orders. There's a huge staff of really fun RAs, which means there's always someone around with whom you can talk about any problems or concerns you may have. The view from the balconies isn't bad, either.

Cons: I encountered a roach once. Also, again, there are a lot of people in Hojo, so sometimes it's kind of loud. Not ideal if you prefer studying (or sleeping) in total silence. Lastly—and perhaps most annoyingly—this is the furthest residence hall from main campus (and therefore your classes). It's about a fifteen-minute walk to the Pit...doable, but aggravating after a while. On the bright side, it's close to several bus stops.

1. The Winner: Ehringhaus

http://reslife.web.unc.edu/2015/06/23/the-view-from-ehringhaus/

This residence hall is right behind Koury, so a lot of the location-based advantages/disadvantages still apply.

Pros: There's a bus stop literally right out front, there aren't a ridiculous number of residents (so it isn't super loud or anything), and it's suite-style. As if that isn't enough, you only have to cross the road once outside the residence hall if you're walking to class (and trust me, crossing Manning/Skipper Bowles/Ridge is a whole experience). Additionally, this residence hall is one of the closest to Subway and Rams Market.

Cons: The pronunciation isn't always agreed upon by incoming students (but by all accounts I've heard, it's pronounced like "Air-ing-house," you're welcome). Also, it's kind of far from class buildings (like a 12-minute walk from the Pit).

Really, the cons aren't bad at all. This residence hall offers all of the community excitement of Hinton James but is slightly calmer and closer to main campus. That, coupled with the fulfillment of the crucial first-year experience of living on south campus, puts Ehringhaus at number one in my book.

I think the south campus residence halls are inherently better than the north campus ones just because the daily 15-minute trek to class is practically a rite of passage for UNC first-years. That said, all of the residence halls have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and you can have an awesome first year no matter where you live.

For more information on each residence hall, I'd recommend scouring https://housing.unc.edu/housing/residence-halls. Welcome to UNC, kiddos!

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