Til It Happens To You
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Politics and Activism

Til It Happens To You

I am more than a statistic.

Til It Happens To You
Melisa Im

This will likely be the hardest piece of writing I ever do, mainly because of how vulnerable and exposed this makes me feel, but more so because I know how many people out there are affected by this, but never come forward. Our headlines this week, and multiple times in my Facebook feed, read "Brock Turner to leave jail after 3 months for sex assault ." People's reactions are an array of disgust and complete shock. What goes through my mind is a myriad of things, but mainly what I feel is a sense of fear and a barrage of immediate flashbacks.

In February of 2015 I made my first therapy appointment ever. The social stigma of therapy being something that you only go to when something is "wrong" with you had plagued me. I felt weird for sitting in a room and talking to a complete stranger about something that I wouldn't tell my friends and family about. Surprisingly, it was incredibly helpful just to talk about it, to be heard. By the end of the appointment, I had been diagnosed with PTSD.

Three months prior to that I was raped.
I've been going in circles for months about writing this. I thought about writing it under a false name. I've written multiple drafts and deleted them thinking about how little I want my friends and family on Facebook to know this about me. No matter how far I've come, no matter how much I truly believe that what happened that night was not my fault, I still feel shame. I didn't want my friends or family feeling like I'm damaged, like I'm a victim. I am not. I am strong, I live my life happily, I work hard and I am independent.

But something that night changed me. Every time I’m in a room alone with a man, I get nervous. I often have nightmares of that night. Sometimes I don’t even have to be asleep to relive that horrible memory, the flashbacks come back to me as they please, a "trigger" is the word the therapist used. I carry pepper spray with me everywhere now. I used to be incredibly affectionate, now I don’t like for people to touch me, even if it’s just a hug. I used to be incredibly trusting, now I *rarely* trust people. I was changed against my will, but I am not a victim. I am a survivor.
So why did I write this? Why did I decide to come forward and raise my hand as someone who has been raped? Because I know, statistically, that of my 418 female friends on Facebook (yes, I actually counted), about 69 of them have been a victim of rape. That's not even accounting for which of my male friends have been victims.

Months ago I watched The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses across the country. Here's just a little snippet of the data for you:

- Harvard had 135 reported rapes between 2009-2013, with 10 suspensions.
- Berkeley had 78 reported rapes between 2008-2013, with 3 expulsions.
- Dartmouth had 155 reported rapes between 2002-2013, with 3 expulsions.
- Stanford had 259 reported rapes between 1996-2013, with 1 expulsion.
- University of North Carolina had 136 reported rapes between 2001-2013, with 0 expulsions.
- University of Virginia had 205 reported rapes between 1998-2013, with 0 expulsions, but they had 183 expulsions for cheating and other honor board violations.

Data works, I understand that numbers show how signifiant this issue is. However, the problem is I become a number. Not a face, not a person. I fall into a number of women who have been raped. I become a statistic like RAINN.org claiming that every 2 minutes an American is raped. That is a true, and sad, claim, but I am not a number. I am a daughter to someone. A sister. A granddaughter. A friend of someone. A girlfriend of someone.

This week, my Facebook feed has been plastered by pictures of Brock Turner, depicted as an upper class white male, smiling candidly. An accurate picture should portray what his victim saw: a human being with absolutely no regard for that of an unconscious female. But I do not like to think of him at all. The one I think of every time I see his picture is his victim. So this is to her, whoever you are, I just want you to know I am here for you, this is a battle you and I will fight together because, after all, you and I share a bond. A bond we were given against our will, but one we will use to fight the stigma that we "deserved" what we got because of what we wore, what we said, what we were drinking.

Thanks to you, and to others who speak up maybe, just maybe, things will change. This is why I decided to finally speak up. This is something I will work for the rest of my life to try and change for people everywhere.

We are not victims, we are survivors.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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