The topic that I am about to cover in this blog post is sexual assault. I am going to tell the stories of two women who experienced sexual assault. I am going to tell the story of a woman who was not given a fair trial, or a trial at all for that matter. I am going to tell the story of a girl who was hurt several years ago and can no longer look at herself in the mirror. I am going to tell the story of a girl who sought out several different resources, and she was turned away by each and every one of them. This is my story. This is our story.
If the topic of sexual assault makes you feel uncomfortable, then I have two suggestions. My first suggestion is to quit reading this post right now, because once you hear these stories, you'll never feel the same. My second suggestion is to get over that feeling of uncomfortableness because sexual assault is real and it happens everywhere. It is not confined to a specific area. It is not confined to a specific group of people. Sexual assault often goes unreported. When sexual assault is reported, there's a high probability that things will not be handled in the correct manner. I suggest that you get used to hearing about sexual assault and the wrongdoings of Indiana University and SEVERAL other college campuses, because this story is not going away, and neither am I.
As a young girl, I always felt that something was rather off in my household. I specifically remember an individual that I knew very well bringing my friend and me out to the garage and touching us in inappropriate places. This individual would often encourage us to touch each other as well. At the time, I was so young, and I didn't understand what was going on at all. I brought this poor girl to my household just so that someone I knew could hurt her. I have no idea where she's at today. Is she okay? Is she traumatized? Is she walking around on a college campus that tries to pretend that rape never occurs or that it is a "safe" environment? Does she, too, feel sick to her stomach when she looks in the mirror? I didn't tell anyone about these experiences... not until recently. I was afraid that no one would listen to me or believe me, since I was a child, after all. They'd say that when you love someone, you don't hurt them. They'd say that it was impossible for someone so close to do something so horrible... But it happened. Something horrible happened.
Fast forward to early 2017. I was in a relationship with an individual that had never previously expressed an interest in sexual activities. One day, in a parking lot, this individual decided that we should have sex. I said "no." I said that I didn't feel comfortable doing that. I said that this wasn't the right time or place... but none of that mattered. It happened anyway. There's a part of me that wholeheartedly believes that he didn't know what he was doing. He didn't know that he was hurting me. He probably thought that I was kidding when I said no because girls have a tendency to be rather "playful" when it comes to such things. I wasn't being playful. I was being sincere. Maybe I didn't say "no" enough. Maybe I wore the wrong outfit that night. I went to school the next day and cried until I could not cry anymore. I told my best friend about the incident. She was surprised because she had never heard of me engaging in such physical actions. I confronted the individual and made him aware of what he had done. He said that he did not view the incident that way, and that he was truly sorry if he hurt me. I believed him. I swept the incident under the rug because we were in a relationship and that's what people in relationships do. They engage in sexual activities. This was completely normal, and besides, I probably deserved it anyway.
After these two incidents occurred, I pretty much kept to myself. I withdrew from friends and loved ones. I stopped interacting with people as much. I felt like I had no worth. My depression and anxiety continued to grow. I was continuously afraid of being hurt again. I was afraid of trusting and loving someone and then watching them do the worst thing that is humanly possible.
When someone rapes you, they take a part of you with them. Therefore, I will never be enough for anyone. I will never be enough because I will never be whole. I am a portion of the person who I used to be. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I no longer recognize the girl that is staring back at me.
Upon my arrival to IUB, my depression, anxiety, and panic attacks quickly began to worsen. I felt trapped. I lost all of my friends, and I lost all of my hope. I was in a city surrounded by unfamiliar faces. I reached out to my RA for help and information about the different resources available on campus. I told my advisor about the incidents, and she encouraged me to utilize the different resources as well.
Last week, I was at a meeting with the director for my scholarship program, and I told him my story. I told him about both incidents, and he informed me that he was required to report it. I was not shocked by hearing this. In fact, I was somewhat relieved. I'm a rather indecisive person. Therefore, I like when decisions are made for me. He said that he would file an incident report and someone would contact me with different resources that are available.
At the time, I had tried to utilize two resources. I had scheduled and attended an appointment with CAPS (Counseling And Psychological Services). Faculty and staff of IUB strongly encourage their students to utilize the two free visits per semester that are offered by CAPS. Luckily, I had a referral to see a psychologist at CAPS so that I could get a better grip on my medications. Unfortunately, there are several hoops to jump through before seeing a psychiatrist at CAPS. During my intake session, I told the woman everything she could possibly want to know, and probably a lot that she didn't want to know as well. She stated that I should most definitely be seeing a psychiatrist at their facility, but she also stated that those services are unavailable since I have been seeing a psychologist from my hometown.
That was the first resource that turned me away.
Then, I headed to the Center for Human Growth and Development. This is also a psychological service, but this center does not have trained professionals. The people at this facility are graduate students who are being supervised by trained professionals. The sessions are often recorded, and the sessions are much more affordable. When I called the center, they informed me that it is "unprofessional" to see more than one psychologist at a time, and therefore, the situation should be avoided completely.
That was the second resource that turned me away.
After some more investigation, I learned about a resource called SACS. SACS is a resource for students that focuses specifically on sexual assault. I called to schedule an appointment with SACS, informed the receptionist that I am seeing an outside psychologist, and guess what... I was turned away yet again. The receptionist said that since SACS "works under the same umbrella" as CAPS, she was not sure how much they could do for me.
This was the third and final resource that turned me away.
How does a resource that is designed to specifically help victims of sexual assault turn away anyone, regardless of an outside source?
Indiana University, and several other college campuses, claims to have these incredible resources for students to utilize, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. We pay a health fee each year that includes some of these services at a discounted rate. Why am I paying a fee for a resource that I cannot even use?
In the midst of all of this, I made a new friend while speaking with my scholarship director at the Starbucks in the IMU. As she was leaving, she left me a note with her name and phone number and stated that she knew what I was going through. She asked me to contact her. I did.
A few days later, we met for coffee, and I heard her story. I expressed how disappointed I was in IUB simply because I am going out of my way to find resources and I am constantly being rejected. It is very discouraging to someone that is battling so many things at one time. She listened to me as I told my story. She nodded in agreement with most of the things that I had to say, and she seemed to share a lot of the same experiences (on and off of IUB's campus).
Her story is unlike any other I have heard before. On her twentieth birthday, she and a few friends were drinking at her house. Things got a little bit out of hand, and she became intoxicated since she was in a safe environment with people that she knew she could trust. The next morning, she woke up next to a stranger that she had never seen before. Immediately, the man asked if she was taking birth control. She responded, "no," and he prompted her to take plan B because he "came inside of her." The fear began to take over her body as she contemplated what in the hell she had done the previous night. She found her friends and asked about the man. Her friends stated that the man arrived at the party while she was outside throwing up on the lawn (this is clearly a sign of intoxication, ESPECIALLY if alcohol is present within the household). It is Indiana's law that legal consent cannot be given if either participant is intoxicated, mentally unstable, etc.... She quickly drove to the emergency room in the same clothing and proceeded with a rape kit. She said that she wanted to press charges against the man, now identified as a YouTube "star." This was the most humiliating thing that she had ever gone through, but there was no doubt that this act was not consensual. Some time went by and the prosecutor gave her a call. He said that he would not be taking this case any further because "she could not remember saying no." He said that it was not a criminal case.
This is how Indiana chooses to handle serious matters, such as sexual assault. They constantly brush things under the rug or turn a blind eye, especially if one of the parties is wealthy. The man who committed the crime claimed to be incredibly wealthy. He directly told my friend, "I don't need you, bitch. I'm wearing $1,000 pants right now." That is absolutely no way to speak to someone, no matter what the situation is. He tried to convince his friend to put the "psychotic bitch" on Livestream. I wish he would have. I wish the world could see who this individual truly is.
There are so many possibilities and problems that come to mind when I think of how this situation was handled. First of all, she had all of the proof that she needed to prove intoxication that night, and therefore, the inability to give legal consent. She and her friends had videos and photos. The police came to her house and saw scattered alcohol bottles. Another piece of evidence was her BAC, which should have been taken at the ER.
Maybe the prosecutor didn't want to take the case to court because she had a boyfriend. It's possible that he viewed her as a girl who got drunk, cheated on her boyfriend, made a mistake, and then cried rape.
Who in the hell gave someone the power to make such assumptions? This case should have been taken to court, and she should have won it. I don't care how slim he thought the chances of winning were. She deserves to have peace of mind. She deserves to know that she is not alone in all of this.
As I spoke to my assigned Sexual Assault Victims Advocate, I was told that there isn't much I can do about my case. I'm actually relieved to hear that. I wasn't interested in pressing charges or bringing up things from the past. I am interested in moving on and forgiving.
This injustice has encouraged me to start an organization at IUB that aims to help victims of sexual assault. My organization will be assisting those who did not receive a fair trial, those who were too scared to report the incident, those who were bargained with and therefore did not report, etc....
It is time that all of this comes to a stop. It is time that we stop pretending that we live in a world of rainbows and butterflies. We live in a world where justice isn't always served. We live in a world where people make mistakes, and sometimes, they do really terrible things (even to the people who they love the most).
If you are reading this right now and you are a victim of sexual assault, please feel free to contact me. I am here to assist you with any of your needs. I will go with you to file a report. I will help you investigate a case. I will be your rock every step of the way.
No one deserves to feel the way that I feel right now. No one deserves to be turned away from three of campuses' best resources. No one deserves to live in fear. No one deserves to feel as if they do not deserve happiness and/or love.
These incidents have caused me to ruin so many good things for myself simply because the thought of being happy is absolutely unnerving. I feel as if I don't deserve to be happy. I feel as if I somehow asked for all of this.
Have you ever heard the saying, "God never gives you anything you can't handle?" Well, quite frankly, I believe that saying is bullshit. If God were playing a part in all of this, the world would be full of good, kind-hearted individuals who stop on the street to ask if you're okay when they see you crying. The world would be full of parents who loved their children and would never do anything to hurt them. The world would be full of relationships that practice love and tradition. The world would be so much more than it is today.
However, I would never go back and change the things that happened to me. These things turned me into the woman that I am today, sitting behind this computer screen, writing this blog post. These experiences taught me exactly the type of person I want to be in life, and honestly, I couldn't be more thankful.
I want you to know that you are never alone in this. I want you to know that you should not blame yourself. You did not deserve any of the things that happened to you. You should always, always, always report incidents, no matter how big or how small... because it is time that someone does something about all of this. It is time that someone makes a change and creates an environment where people can live without being afraid.
I'm going to create that environment, and all I ask for in return is your support. Please share your stories. You never know whose life you may be touching.