Government against Rape Survivors Subtitle: Why I feel like Crap Today
Today is September 16th. I’m a bit on edge with Monday coming up. If you haven’t heard, Monday the 17th, it will have been 7 years since I was raped. In this moment though that’s not what’s got me down. I have a lot of things on mind.
It seems I can’t go online these days without horrifying political news (Kavanaugh and Devos really are out doing each other) AND interactions with people who enjoy calling me “daft” among other more graphic words to describe my character- All because I refuse to be silenced anymore and I refuse to let sexual assault continue to be swept under the rug.
When I was raped, my college did everything in their power to silence. They pretended that they had my best interest at heart, but after doing a judicial case through my Dean of students, the outcome of this case was nothing short of devastating. In the years since my assault, I have learned a lot about the epidemic of sexual assault at colleges and what colleges will do to cover them up.
I didn’t go to this particular college, but here are some statistics that really could happen anywhere and should make you angry.
43% of female students at Stanford experience sexual violence.
190 reports of sexual violence,
Led to 12 investigations
And 1 “permanent ban”
As you can see, our current system should be trying to help survivors, but many schools ignore the rules and see what they can get away with. There’s a whole documentary about this.
You would think we would be working to make schools accountable for investigating assaults and holding rapists accountable. And many amazing organizations are doing just that, but we also have people who are driven by greed and the false ideology that rape victims are liars (about 4% of rape accusations are false, the same percent for other felonies).
Which brings me to, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ proposal about sexual violence on college campuses. Devos is proposing new rules that would change Title IX. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is meant to make sure all students have equal access to education and that if there is an environment that threatens that (sexual assault) the school must protect the victim or lose federal funding.
The judicial hearings at schools, that happen because of Title IX, cost schools time and money. Betsy Devos is trying to save schools both, by creating rules that would no longer hold schools accountable for providing a safe environment.
Devos would make it so schools would only required to investigate assaults that occured on campus.
Only 14% of college students in the US live on campus.
I was raped in an apartment “off campus.” The building was surrounded by the campus and was a few doors down from academic buildings. About 90% of students at my school lived off campus. The effects of my rape and having to be around my rapist on campus would not have changed if the assault had taken place a block away, in a dorm.
Devos would make it so those accused could cross examine their victims.
Do I really need to explain why this would make even less people come forward after experiencing sexual violence?
There are more rules proposed by Devos, all with the potential to cause harm.
Will these proposed rules save schools money? Maybe. Will they encourage students to remain silent? I think so. For the physical and mental treatment of rape survivors the average lifetime cost is $122,461. Survivors lose more money when they are forced to drop out of school or move. They lose the money they spent on classes that they cannot get a refund on and they lose the potential earnings from having a degree. If schools keep rapists on campus they create a hostile environment that will force victims out. And if you want to talk money, think of how much more money will have to spent on health costs for a survivor that was not supported.
Betsey Devos, here is what my rape cost me: thousands of dollars in therapy. My time and energy spent in meetings and hearings. My self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. Years of sleepless nights and days of panic attacks. The highest cost? Thinking my life was no longer worth living. We cannot allow these proposed rules to become a reality.
I also have a few words on Kavanaugh. So if you’re still reading, thanks and I’ll try and be brief.
Kavanaugh is a threat to women’s reproductive rights. He has called birth control “abortion inducing drugs” (which is scientifically just so wrong) and has sided with organizations that refuse to provide employees insurance coverage for birth control.
I used Plan B to keep myself from getting pregnant after being raped. I cannot imagine not having had access to this.
And if you could ignore this, please don’t ignore or write off the accusations of sexual assault against him.
So, call me daft. Tell me schools shouldn’t be held responsible for providing a safe environment for all students. Tell me birth control is evil. Tell me not to believe a woman who was forced to publicly come forward about her assault only to face ridicule and hatred. Tell me that Kavanaugh never assaulted other woman, so obviously he didn’t assault her. Tell me that schools shouldn’t be held accountable for investigating assaults if they don’t affect the ~ 14% of students living on campus.
Here’s what I’ll tell you: It is the duty of schools to provide a safe environment for all students. My school failed me with the current system, we cannot afford to fail more survivors. It is not the duty of a judge to tell woman what choices they can make about their own bodies. Most importantly, if someone comes forward as a survivor, believe them.
I won’t stop trying to make things better for survivors, so call me all the names you want.
Thank you for reading,