Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I can't be your rape awarness poster child

Awhile ago I read this post about a rape victim at Bob Jones University whose professor told her she was guilty for what happened. I left a comment on this article about a situation at Liberty University, another christian college, where something very similar happened to me.

Since then I've received a few e-mails asking for me to tell my story. To "pull the wool off" of people's eyes about Liberty and reveal "what they did to me".

But I can't be your rape awareness poster child.

You see, I actually enjoyed Liberty University. When I think of my time there I remember the years of marching band and wind ensemble, the good friends I made and the amazing things I learned.

I don't think about trying to report what happened to me and being told by campus police that I was lying. I don't think about them calling the guy who assaulted me and leaving us together in a room. Alone. I don't think about saying anything, anything they wanted me to say or sign just so they would let me leave. I don't think about the shame. Or after, when I asked them why, they said, oh, we were right outside watching you on video. You were safe. But they didn't tell me that. They just left me there, alone.

I didn't feel safe.

But that was one moment, one moment in four years, and I don't want it to destroy the good memories. Not everyone at Liberty thought I was to blame--but I didn't tell any other adults for a long, long time about what happened because I was terrified. I was terrified of being told, again, that it was my fault. Terrified of someone saying "well, what were you wearing? Did you kiss him? Were you alone?" Because when you confess things like this, that is what many people say.

So I can't be your rape awareness poster child, because I don't want to open my life up again to those types of questions. I don't want to fear getting hate mail about how much of a slut I was. Or comments saying I'm a liar. I don't want to travel that road again. I guess I am a little afraid.

You know, I don't have nightmares about what happened to me. I have nightmares about what people said. "Are you sure that happened? Why would you lie about _____, you know he wouldn't do that. What did you do? Why were you alone?" It's hard to think about how many friends I lost, because they chose to believe one friend over another. And how many names I was called. I don't really blame them, but it still hurts.

I just want to heal. Yes, the way those campus cops at Liberty reacted to me was wrong. They caused some scars, they caused me to doubt myself and live in fear for a long time. But calling them out won't change anything. It won't save me from being hurt. And it does not help me heal.

I'm not here to further your political agenda or bring down another christian university with screwed up values. I'm here to heal, and most of all protect myself.

Anyway, please don't think I'm saying its wrong to share your story--because I have. I had the opportunity to share a little bit of mine on a blog almost a year ago. And I feel strongly that this was the right thing to do, and helped me a lot, and I hope it helps others as well. However, I didn't feel bullied into it. When I guest posted with my friend she was very respectful and also her website is a very safe place. I felt safe sharing my story there, and that was really important to me. Unlike many other sites who I feel just want to jump on the "viral" and "edgy" bandwagon and are just searching for a story that will up their view count, even if it comes at the cost of another persons trauma.

But that's just my two cents. So yeah.

I guess what I'm saying is no one has a right to my story. I don't have a duty or obligation to anyone to share my story. And we need more safe places for people to contribute to, discreetly and with intentional love.

If you are confused about this post, it is in reference to being sexually assaulted in college by someone I considered a good friend. While I have guest posted about it, I have not discussed this on my blog yet. Maybe one day I will.


Belle Vierge said...

You are very sweet. I'm glad that you consider my blog a safe space, because I have tried very hard to make it so. You are a wonderful and strong person. You are courageous in sharing your story, but you are NOT obligated to talk about it more than you feel comfortable doing. I'm so sorry that other people are trying to take a dark moment from your past and use it for their own means.

Angela said...

I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better, but I know the Lord is healing you, and that’s far more priceless then anything I could ever say. I love so many of your words, they truly hit home with me – how you’ve left anger out of it. My best friend in college was raped, and I went to the hospital with her, it was horrible. The cost to get the test was so expensive and they just weren’t helpful at all. I got into with the nurse and said please stop blaming her! Then I remember reading a poster that said, “Yes, it’s your fault for getting drunk, but not your fault for getting raped.” – I honestly didn’t know how to react to that? It just felt like everything was the girls fault? You never have to share your story, but the fact you’re still putting awareness out there is very selfless and makes me proud to read your blog.

Kelly del Valle said...

I used to go to a church that taught the youth that there was pretty much one way to live: Be church-schooled M-F and Sunday schooled till it was time to go to Bob Jones. We all had this idea of BJU being our church away from church. Parents joked about sending their daughters there for their M.R.S. degree. It was the only 'safe' college; a place you could go for four years and come out a soon to be married adult. It seemed so... perfect. I'm all for rape-awareness campaigns, but I think a lot of young adults who go to these colleges are so far removed from such harsh realities that even stories like Katie Landry's don't feel real to them....and those edgy campaigns you mentioned even less so.

So yeah. I agree. More safe spaces like Belle's blog. Quiet ways of sharing and finding comfort, because most people's idea of someone who has been assaulted is of either a crying victim who never recovered, or a roaring spokesperson. I think a lot of women would be encouraged by the idea of there being a middle ground.