Monday, April 8, 2013

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

In August 2010, I was sexually violated. 

I was a freshman at MIT, actually, I hadn't even started school yet. It took me over two years to come forward and talk about it. It is still a slightly nerve wracking story to talk about. But that's just it, it shouldn't be. Hearing this news is never going to be easy news to hear, but it should never be taboo. The boy at fault was, well, to say the least, a jerk. I want to believe that he didn't know what he was doing. I want to believe that because I didn't say no and maybe had initially wanted to kiss him (unfortunately, I didn't document it and can't remember if I did or did not. This in itself haunts me, more than anything else, I wish I had told someone every detail or written it down, two years does a lot to one's memory.). I want to believe that perhaps that's why he thought he had consent. I don't know and until I'm ready to talk to him, I never will. He took something that was not his. It is truly an inexplicable sensation of embarrassment and frustration with myself that I felt over come me when I first started talking about it last October. It consumed my mind and affected my grades. The only option I had was to talk about it more. Every time I open up and talk about this very intimate event in my life, I hope I give others the liberty to do so as well.

One in four college aged woman will be raped or sexually assaulted. Chances are, you know someone who has been violated and don't even know it. My goal is to make this a topic of discussion. It should never lose its potency but I hope soon it will be less "forbidden." I was partly scared to come forward for fear of how people would react. After all, this kid goes to my school and is actually a rather known figure, a member of a fraternity even, etc.

To all of you who have been violated: It doesn't matter who he/she is, you have a RIGHT to speak up and be comforted. You have a right to no longer let it control you. An absence of a "no" DOES NOT MEAN a "yes." Period. (I still battle with this, with questions like "was I encouraging it?" etc.) Even if you are like me, and "successfully forget" about it for several years, it will surface one day, and when it does, know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved. And if you're like me, you'll roll your eyes and shrug this post off (heard the jargon a billion times, but eventually, something snapped and I started to listen), but hopefully, somewhere in the back of your mind, you'll come to believe it on a whole new level... in time... when you are ready.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. My platform for the Miss Boston Pageant wasn't just "for funsies," it was to bring about discussion of this topic to teach people how to respond to such news so that hopefully when more people come forward, they are greeted with opened arms and a good listener. My hope is that my story will turn that sexual assault poster on a wall into a face-- a real, living, *friend's* face-- and not just another poster. I think awareness is one step closer to a better, more educated community. Thank you for reading.

Much love,

P.S. I'll elaborate more on options and all that can be done for support as I explore the opportunities I've learned about at school. Since making this post my status on facebook, I've learned about three friends who have also been violated. It's amazing what sharing this post has already brought to my attention as well as others' attention.  Keep on talking... it'll bring about a change. I promise.