I want to share a story with you that both frustrated me and made me want to see change happen.
I spoke in an earlier blog post about self-advocacy. It’s important, and people should do it more often. However, there are times where you don’t think you should have to advocate for yourself because the people are charge are supposed to, like cops. I mean, that’s their job right? Apparently, that doesn’t mean a thing.
Assaults on college campuses are nothing new, but they have always been something to worry about. If you’re a female, you’re afraid of walking across campus at night alone. You stay away from certain areas, and you learn to be on your guard and take in your surroundings. But you wouldn’t think something would happen in the middle of the day. 3 weeks ago, I was assaulted on campus in the early evening in an area where I would have thought people would be paying attention.
In the moment, you’re freaking out. You’re not sure what’s going on or where it is heading, but you want to fight your way out of it. Instinctively, I kicked him between the legs and darted to my car. Sadly, it wasn’t before he had grabbed me and threw me against my car leaving my arms bruised and my right eye sore all around. My first thoughts were to drive to the hospital and make sure I was ok.
Upon arriving, I was checked out and the cops interviewed me. I told them what happened. I told them I kicked him in self-defense. Do you want to hear what I was told? That I should apologize to him for kicking him where I did. There wasn’t anything spoken about what he did wrong. It was my fault for kicking him. The cops assumed it was a quarrel between two people dating, and they never stopped for me to correct them. I was sent on my way home. They were supposed to have interviewed him, but I’m afraid to ask what the results were. And considering he’s still walking around… he’s obviously not in trouble.
I bottled this up for the week after it happened. I was, and still am, extremely angry with how it was handled. What about my safety on campus? Apparently, it doesn’t matter. The assault triggered nightmares of the assault, and triggered old feelings from a trauma I experienced as a young girl. As it always seems to be, I suffer while he gets away.
I notified campus police. They pulled me out of class to discuss what happened. I was given two options: protection order or I may be chaperoned to my car if I felt I needed it, but only if they were not busy. From this interview with this campus officer I’m astounded anyone can feel safe on campus. Mace isn’t allowed. He tried to give me his Sargent’s number, but he gave me mine instead and didn’t notice anything wrong.
It’s during times like these when self-advocacy seems to be the most important. With classes coming to a close, I decided not to pursue it any further because it obviously isn’t going to make a difference. I won’t be on campus after classes end, and he is supposed to be going home. I’m constantly worried about my safety. I have to turn to friends who are willing to walk me to my car. If he shows up in the library, I have to leave because it’s too uncomfortable sitting there. This situation and other problems led up to my most recent attempted suicide not long ago. In the last two months, I’ve attempted twice. The triggers from my childhood rape continues to batter my mind while he walks free.
You can self-advocate only so much before you have to let it go or let it run your life. I’ve begun putting my mental health on high importance while other things, like my homework, begin to drown me. I’ve closed down on my support group. It’s hard to keep going to them when all you feel is as though they see you coming down the hall and think to themselves, “oh goodness not her!” It takes a lot of strength for me not to think people don’t want people like me around… someone whose life is nothing, but a roller coaster that can’t be controlled.
I can only try to remain safe and live to see another day. And I can only continue advocating for my needs and my own safety, no matter how tiring it is becoming.