This is the facebook post that I wrote a few days ago to talk about something important to me. It and it’s responses are what finally urged me to start a page for writing everything I would have anyways. Enjoy:
This is going to be a long post so before I begin, here is the Sparknotes version:
1) The more I grow and experience, the more I’ve realized how backwards society is when it comes to certain topics.
2) In October I was sexually assaulted in my high school parking lot by four guys after a football game.
3) I’m ready to talk about it and use this horrifying event in my life to make a difference.
4) I’m going to ask you for money. And for a share.
Today in my philosophy final, one of the questions asked about objectivism and subjectivism in society. To explain the difference in a very short manner, objectivism says “it is true,” while subjectivism says “it is true for me.” As well as “that is wrong,” versus “that is wrong to me.” I chose to talk about the difference between the two in the court room when sexual assault and rape is being tried. Often it is not “that is wrong no matter the circumstance,” and instead is translated to “what was she wearing?”
Many victims, both male and female, are shamed into thinking they have done wrong or that it is their fault. From this, they then grow silent and learn not to bring it up. That the tragedy they experienced is a taboo for conversation, that people don’t care and don’t have time for things of that nature. This isn’t okay, and I’ve finally hit my breaking point to where I cannot stand to see others hurt the same way I was.
What finally did it for me you ask? A party I went to this weekend with my boyfriend. It was an amazing time, the door was guarded and you were denied entrance without an ugly Christmas sweater on. But once deemed festive enough you entered a house full of fellow band geeks playing Uno, discussing politics, and of course devouring Christmas cookies faster than you could believe. I had a great time meeting new friends, but then noticed something strange. As everyone was having fun, one girl was in the corner of the kitchen sitting against the wall and rocking back and forth. A position I’ve recently become all too familiar with myself. I made eye contact with Danny and made him aware of this situation. Being the most amazing and caring human being I know, he went and sat next to her and tried to calm her down, but I could see her getting more and more agitated. She finally bolted into the bathroom and locked the door and you could hear her sobbing and hyperventilating and it scared me. Danny told me her story, that she had been molested by a fellow band member behind the school last year, and has never been the same since. I sat on the other side of the bathroom door, “please let me in. I know I don’t know you, but I know you and I know it and just please let me help.” She couldn’t even unlock the door herself because she couldn’t control her shaking. Something else I am very familiar with. Her panic attack triggered another person at the party, and it was discovered they had an experience with the same person hurting them. He’s not at their school anymore, but was never expelled for his actions, only suspended. This disgusted me, enraged me, and the fire in my heart that has always wanted to do good and make a change is a fiery furnace now.
Last school year when I finally became strong enough to leave the abusive relationship no one knew about because he forced me into secrecy, no one believed me. I was a liar, a slut, and because I wasn’t held down and raped against my will, it was my fault. I believed this for a long time. It has been a long road, but I now know this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I know it wasn’t my fault, and that was the beginning of my healing.
This time people believed me. They believed me because I did say no, because after I escaped I got back to the band room where the police were called and because video evidence is there. I wasn’t shamed, and I got the help I needed afterwards. Danny, who was just a friend at the time, drove up from Cincinnati at the drop of a hat to spend the weekend with me, my friends showed their support through texts, Mr. Dick called to ask how I was doing. At first I was afraid that I was going to be treated as a liability rather than a human being by the school, but I was taken care of. I had advocates, and our principal was willing to write a letter to the band telling them to be careful because an “incident” had occurred the week prior. I wish more was done, I wish every girl was warned instead of just band members, but I was in no place to fight for that.
I had stopped having panic attacks over the summer after beginning therapy from my previous experience, but this was a whole new world of panic attacks. I was constantly trapped in my head, scared of crowds, of people, of empty parking lots. I began missing classes, and instead laying in the darkness of my room staring at the ceiling. I lost any type of authority in my voice when it came to drum major, if I ever spoke at all. No assignments were ever done, and I dropped the ball on anything I had previously promised other people. Then I got a call from Jami at the YWCA Hope Center. The detective on the assault helped me get connected to resources, and I cannot tell you how thankful I am for that. It was like the wave of everything dark in my life that was hovering over my head threatening to drown my just disappeared. She told me it was okay, everything would be okay, and that it was okay that I wasn’t okay. She helped my talk to my professors, and I was even able to have something not unlike a temporary service dog for PTSD victims to help me go to school until the panic attacks stopped being regular.
I still have a lot to healing to do, but I am someone who cannot sit still and wait for that. I need to do something. I need to help others.
They found the guys who did it, but couldn’t prosecute them because of a blind spot in the school’s surveillance system. They were still interrogated and their school became involved. I hope they realize that doing that to a girl isn’t something they can get away with anymore. I can hope that, but a few weeks after my case was closed; two of my attackers were pegged in another offense against a female in Toledo. She wasn’t as lucky as I was, and when I was told that it really hit home to how lucky I was to be able to get away when I did before the unthinkable happened.
One thing I know that will make a difference is talking about it. Letting people know that I am so willing to talk about it. That it isn’t taboo, and if they went through something like this, they aren’t alone. So I’m starting the conversation. No holds, please, come talk to me.
Another thing that I want to do is give back to the resources that have helped me and are still helping me. One of those organizations is the YWCA, their Hope Center, and their Teen Outreach Programs.
As many of you know, I am a part of Leadership Toledo and their youth philanthropy program, Y.I.P.E.E! which is a group of high school students who raise money to give away to local organizations that help the community. Last year we raised almost $20k to give away, and this year our goal is $25k. This isn’t easy, and we have a lot of different ways of raising the money, but personal asks are our number one source. So consider this me to you, would you be willing to donate to our cause?
If that’s not something that is possible, there are so many other ways you can assist in making the world a better place. Smile, hold open a door for someone, give compliments.
But also start a conversation. I’m done with sexual assault and abuse being taboo. So I’m starting the conversation. Join me by being brave and sharing your story, or even just sharing this post. Just do something, because without action words will never reach their full potential.