I wish I knew your name so I could find you and hug you.
I can’t imagine what you must be dealing with. Hearing your story was heartbreaking. I think I speak on behalf of many students when I say: you’re not alone.
Picking up the pieces after a horrific crime against you isn’t something I’ll pretend to know about. What I do know is, I’ll unapologetically stand by you.
As someone who has walked a similar path, I want to extend the only help I can offer. I’ve worked through a lot of the same emotions and want to address a few things. I believe you have a support system of family and friends during this time but if not, I hope this finds you and helps your healing process.
Number one: it’s not your fault. Enough has been done to you. Don’t do more to yourself by finding a way to make it your fault. Don’t give him that courtesy by questioning your own choices and behaviors. It’s natural to search for an answer to the “why” question in your own mind but the answer should never by something of your own doing. The reality is he made a choice and he’ll have to face the consequences. Nothing you possibly could have done should ever provoke such an action.
Number two: rape isn’t sex. This is more for the other readers because I’m sure you’re very aware. While we don’t discuss sex in social circles, we all understand how the mechanics work. We understand its purpose and where it should take place and just as commonly, we also know it takes TWO willing people. Rape is talked about even less in social circles but is driven by power, control and entitlement. Rape is about feeling justified to violate another person’s body. It’s selfish and inhumane. Yet, society doesn’t do more to differentiate between the two and for that I am extremely sorry.
Number three: I don’t care about his almost football career. I can only imagine the insult on top of injury you must feel while reading some of these headlines giving glory to a criminal. Football stats are no longer his identifier. I’m sure his face is branded into your mind forever. I hope and pray you don’t see his picture being shared with comments on either side giving invaluable opinions. I hope you don’t feel re-victimized each time you have to see his face. Once again, I apologize that we, as a society, give more importance to a helmet-clashing, ball-chasing game rather than questioning where, why and how this young man though it okay to potentially ruin someone’s life.
Number four: you will overcome this. This may be easy for me to say, but I hope you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Take your time to grieve. Let your family and friends be there for you. Seek help and take it day-by-day. Then, let it empower you. He ignored your “No” but keep saying it and don’t ever stop saying it. When his picture creeps up in your mind, tell him “NO!” When you are ready to date but find it hard to trust again, tell him “NO!” Each time the memory, pain or fear of him try to hold you back, tell him “NO!” Finish school. Live your life and don’t let this tragic thing jade you. Within time, of course. I don’t even know you but I know a woman’s tenacity. He may have thought he could over power you physically but a woman’s strength is so much more than meets the eye.
Jacklyn York is a mass communication senior.