Me Too

 

After reading the headline: BGSU associate professor indicted on rape charges, my heart raced for a good minute. I skimmed and found out a professor, if he’s even worthy of such a title anymore, allegedly committed sexual assault to a minor. As shocked as I wanted to be, I wasn’t. Perhaps hardened by my own experiences, sure, but I had gotten accustomed to feeling unsafe. That took me back. 

Why was I okay with possibly being in danger? Why was I settling with the fact that women are three times as likely to be raped as a college student? Why did I accept not being safe? 

This stuck with me for a lot longer than I thought it would. In fact, it took me back to my own story of trauma and feeling helpless. I took solace in knowing I wasn’t in that situation anymore, but yet again I was feeling the same way when it happened. I felt weak, scared and vulnerable. The way all survivors are often depicted to be, but there was something I noticed about myself. I was annoyed. Not at my emotions, but more why I was letting myself feel this way. Why should any survivor, or even a woman who happens to be a college student have to feel this deep-rooted fear and shame? There’s only one answer.

They shouldn’t.

I asked myself "what would make women feel safe?" and this became "what does BGSU do to make people feel safe?" Here are some resources BGSU offers to assist students on campus.

Resources for female safety

Masculine Engagement Network: This organization was made to bring men of all titles, including students and staff members, together to engage in discussion to keep them well-informed on issues of violence against women, masculinity and equality. 

See it. Hear it. Report it.: A program in place to promote safety of women and other minorities by a system in which incidences of discrimination and sexual harassment/violence can be reported. 

PreventConnect: A system on social media for people to speak out for efforts against sexual assault and relationship violence, and come up with preventative methods together that they could bring to their campus or city. 

Project Respect: This program offers various workshops to open up the conversation of sexual violence and destigmatize it. 

The Stalking Prevention Awareness and Resource Center: This program offers resources for stalking survivors and how to inform police of the matter. 

All of these programs are available across social media and have their own websites detailing how to become a part of their organization and I encourage everyone to become a part of them. I also hope to encourage BGSU to bring these organization’s workshops, speaking events and overall awareness directly to campus as much as they possibly can, so that people know about these resources. Having access to these preventative measures are a very important aspect.

But there’s another crucial conversation to have. What about the ones who have already been affected by relationship and/or sexual violence?

Being a survivor of sexual assault and domestic abuse means that your life is forever changed. It is of the utmost importance that you continue to receive the care you need to live the most mentally healthy life you can have. Survivors of sexual assault are much more likely to develop depression, PTSD, substance abuse issues, eating disorders and anxiety. I like to think of the saying, “I live with my trauma, but not by my trauma.” I take the healing process in strides, but there is no shame in needing a little extra help to get by. 

I hope in sharing these resources for survivors it encourages those who are living with an abuse story to give themselves the best chance at overcoming their trauma and to be kind to themselves throughout the process. Not many women know where to start, but I would really like to change that. 

Resources for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Abuse

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women works to bring attention to human trafficking and makes efforts to prevent and provide care for those who are survivors of it. The “Financial Help for Women in Abusive Relationships” link on the BGSU resources website details a step-by-step plan on how to leave the abuser and receive financial assistance, especially within legal matters. 

The Cocoon offers a shelter for those who are leaving abusive relationships by themselves or with their children.

LGBTQ Victims of Domestic Violence offers resources for those who are within that community that involve identifying an abusive relationship and what to do.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers immediate assistance for anyone in an abusive relationship with a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or any kind of domestic partnership.

The Department of Defense Safe Helpline is a number (877-995-5247), you can call or live chat with to receive help as soon as you can. 

The National Organization for Victim Assistance provides training for advocates to work alongside survivors throughout the process of leaving, rehoming and healing.

The link on the BGSU cite by the name of “Sexual Assault Information” details the many definitions of sexual assault and what to do after it occurs. RAINN, or Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, is a website dedicated to providing a number, (1-800-656-4673) to call if in immediate distress mentally or physically from any kind of assault and lists other important information for survivors.

With so many programs available to us, there appears to be nothing more to ask of BGSU. I, however, believe these resources are nothing without people knowing they exist.

What I am asking of BGSU is to announce all of these resources to the entire campus. Most are aware of the Green Dot services and the campus escort option (419-372-8360), but not many have heard of these other organizations. Having information put up on every bulletin board is a great way to let everyone know what is available.

My next complaint would be the inactive links on the Resources and Services Page of the Center for Women and Gender Equity website. Multiple links have organizations that either no longer exist or are expired. To me, this appears to be disrespectful toward survivors and people who actually need the help. Regularly checking those links requires no real effort. Another real issue I have with BGSU is their inability to offer “be prepared not scared” training. My high school required self-defense classes at no extra cost to us. S.A.F.E. is an amazing program that offers online classes on self-defense, awareness, fighting techniques, and empowerment for women.

My fourth grievance is the lack of resources for men’s mental health and, what society likes to forget about: male survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. After scouring every nook and cranny of the BGSU website, I found that no such thing exists. This is only strengthening the stigma against men’s mental health. While a lot of these resources can be for any gender, there are none particularly for men. This encourages men to stay quiet about any abuse or mental health struggles. I really hope that all genders, sexualities and age groups will use the information I have provided to better their safety and seek help if they are suffering from any type of abuse, the aftermath of it, or need help getting away from it.

What I am asking of you, as either a future or current BGSU student, is to get involved. I know not many of you can afford donations, but you can afford to donate your time to helping those who need it most. As a survivor, helping others can be so fulfilling and even help you through your healing.

For the ones who haven’t experienced trauma, this type of work will still be life-changing and give you a sense of purpose. For the people out there that are still struggling and feel like they will never be better, I see you. I feel you. I understand you. No one should have to go through what you are alone, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

All I ask is that you try it. Try therapy. Try a support group. Try volunteering. Or even try telling someone you trust. I promise you there is a way through this and the journey itself, while it can seem never-ending and sometimes is, will result in you feeling accomplished and stronger than ever. Who wouldn’t want that? If I know anything, it's that you deserve it.

And this final message goes to the people who don’t believe survivors and think what I’m saying is a lost cause:

We — and I say “we” and not “I,” because there is an entire army of survivors out there — will not be silenced. We will not be ignored. We will not stop fighting for those who haven’t found their voice.

 

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