Tag Archives: campus sexual assault

Five life lessons inspired by sexual assault survivors

Most of the sexual assault survivors I have come to know in the process of researching and writing Unsafe On Any Campus? were teenagers when they were raped. For many, the assault turned their world upside down, sending them into a downward spiral of self-loathing, distrust, and cynicism. Fortunately, for most, resilience won out. In fact, a few have even found a new center, a renewed sense of self, and an element of peace.

This begs the question: What life lessons can we learn from these trauma survivors? Here are just five:

  1. Live in the moment. In all too many cases, the rape was so traumatizing that victims dropped classes, withdrew from school altogether, or completely shifted their everyday lives inward. Their depression was fueled by continually reliving the events and the assault. Their transition from victim to survivor often began with a renewed and deeper appreciation for the moments of support, beauty, and dignity they experienced each day rather than reliving the horror of the assault. This allowed many to reclaims their sense of purpose and recapture the dignity that makes them human. 
  2. Draw strength from community. Eighty percent of women who have been raped never disclose the assault to university or law enforcement officials. The figure is even lower for men. The trauma is so personal, so devastating, that many victims are afraid to tell anyone, even their closest friends and family. Reaching out to those cared for them most intimately, those who gave their unqualified support, started them on their path toward recovery. Without the support of those friends and family, survivors say they wouldn’t have had the courage to acknowledge let alone go public with their assault. This close knit group because their rock, their community, and a foundation stone for rebuilding their lives. 
  3. We each have our own journey. Each survivor has their our own personal journey to recovery. The more survivors I met, the more obvious it became that each rape (and assault) was different, each circumstance was unique, each consequence personal. I have met women who were able to move on quickly, and others that struggled to leave their home. The depth of their trauma is highly individualized, making their journeys equally diverse. Survivors are deeply respectful and tolerant of the importance for individuals to chart their own course, to discover their own path, to recovery. This inward reflection leads to a recasting of identity and understanding of self that is inspiring strong and purposeful. 
  4. Each journey has its own path. Not all survivors choose the same road to recovery or healing. The physical and emotional nature of a violation through rape triggers deep wounds that are often invisible, even to those that experience it. Thus, the paths are as varied as the journeys and require many more decisions than paths available. These paths can seem like they shift under their feet, and often become illuminated only after they have been trodden. Survivors on a healing journey are remarkably resilient. They understand the nature of emotional barriers and the difficulties of overcoming them. They are patient and empathetic. They persist with grit and determination. 
  5. Forgiving yourself is essential for healing and stepping foot on our path. Often, this self-forgiveness begins when we acknowledge the truth of a seemingly trite, but essentially true, mantra: “It’s not your fault.” Many of the men and women I came to know became victims through no fault of their own. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and unaware of the threat standing right next to them. Yet they blame themselves first and this weight drags them deep into depression. The path toward healing begins with forgiving oneself. Indeed, this may be the most important lesson of all because this self-forgiveness releases one from the self loathing and guilt that keeps victims in the past, focused on the past, and their paths dark.

These teenagers became women far too soon, their innocence stolen in a matter of minutes. They were forced to “grow up” and become adults far faster than any parent would want for their child. Fortunately, many survivors find a place where they can accept themselves again and embark on a path of self re-discovery. These stories—their journeys of recovery and healing—are almost never told. They don’t make it into make it into the headlines. Yet, as these survivors pivot on their path, they often find a light others may never know.

They also inspire me.

By bearing witness to their trauma, we can take inspiration from their journeys. By allowing ourselves to hear, we can understand the struggles that come with trauma. If we understand, we can support those who are on their path as well as those struggling to find it.

Perhaps, if enough of us understand, sexual assault and rape will become relegated to a dark part of our social history and banished from our present culture.

 

Permission to reprint and distribute this blog post is given with attribution to the author, Samuel R. Staley, Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It (Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, 2016)

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Amazon links to “Unsafe On Any Campus?” are now live!

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.

I am happy to report that the amazon.com links to Unsafe On Any Campus? are now live! I also discovered that pre-orders have hit #53 in the rankings under political science/public policy/abuse.

  • Amazon print $14.95: http://bit.ly/UnsafeAznPrint
  • Amazon kindle ($4.95): http://bit.ly/Unsafekindle

Pre-orders for $3 off are still available through Southern Yellow Pine’s website using the coupon code READ: http://bit.ly/syppunsafe

And, of course, we have an amazing line up of experts for our public forum and launch event at Element3 Church on July 28th, at 7:00 pm.

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Book release and public forum for “Unsafe On Any Campus?” event details

Unsafe On Any Campus? Public forum details for July 28, 2016

Unsafe On Any Campus? Public forum details for July 28, 2016

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It will be officially released at a public forum and discussion on campus sexual assault at Element3 Church in Tallahassee on Thursday, July 28th. All the details are now set, and the public forum will include an A-list line up of experts on campus sexual assault.

  • How many students become victims of sexual assault on college campuses?
  • What can students do to protect themselves and their friends?
  • What are colleges doing to address campus sexual assault?
  • What questions should every student ask their college admissions officer?

These and other questions will be answered by participants in a discussion moderated by Sam Staley, author of Unsafe On Any Campus?

Doors will open at 6:30 pm with the program beginning at 7 pm and wrapping up by 9 pm. Red-Eye Coffee and refreshments will be provided, courtesy of Element3 Church and Southern Yellow Pine Publishing. The forum will be highly interactive, maximizing audience input and questions. We will also be running a simultaneous Facebook event so anyone from around the world can participate and ask questions. (Details on this to follow.)

Here are the details on the speakers:

ruthkrug_photoRuth Krug

Ruth is a certified trauma-sensitive yoga trainer, mindfulness teacher, and campus rape survivor based in the Midwest. She is also a Restorative Justice practitioner who has worked in local public schools at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. A graduate of Florida State University, she majored in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with a focus on political science, nonprofit administration and economics. Ruth’s healing journey is chronicled along with other survivor stories and testimonies on her blogs Feeding the Heart and Reclaiming Lost Voices.

 

Christopher Krebs

Christopher Krebs

Christopher Krebs, PhD 

Chief Scientist, Center for Justice, Safety, and Resilience, RTI International

Chris has extensive research experience in the areas of corrections, substance abuse epidemiology and treatment, intimate partner violence and sexual violence, HIV transmission among and associated high-risk behaviors of offenders and inmates, criminal justice systems, and program evaluation. He has led and worked on a number of projects for the National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He has employed both quantitative and qualitative methods in his research and has extensive experience designing studies, developing survey instruments, analyzing data, and disseminating findings. Dr. Krebs has published and presented numerous research papers on a wide variety of topics.

 

Jennifer-Broomfield_mediumJennifer Broomfield, LISW, JD

Title IX Director, Florida State University

Jennifer is a licensed attorney and clinical social worker. Prior to coming to FSU, Ms. Broomfield served as the National Program Manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs Intimate Partner Violence Program. Ms. Broomfield has served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Children’s Legal Services Department of the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Florida where she investigated and prosecuted sexual assault and child abuse dependency cases. Additionally, Ms. Broomfield has been an adjunct professor of social work at undergraduate and graduate programs in New Mexico.

 

rrezaeiRose Rezaie, MEd

Assistant Director, Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness, Florida State University

Rose’s main responsibilities include overseeing campus wide initiatives at FSU encompassing sexual violence prevention and sexual health education. Rose received her Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and Master’s in College Student Affairs from the University of South Florida. Creating space where students feel empowered to take ownership of their lives through education and skill building serves as the foundation of her work. Outside of FSU, she enjoys attending community events, thrift shopping, and traveling.

 

kpruettKori Pruett, MS

Power-Based Personal Violence Coordinator, Florida State University

Kori’s main responsibilities at FSU include educating students on the dynamics of sexual violence, the myths that surround sexual violence, ways to obtain and define consent, empowering students through bystander intervention, and informing students about campus resources and support. She is also the Co-Chair of the Curriculum Development Sexual Violence Prevention Sub Committee. Kori received her Master’s and Bachelor’s in International Affairs from Florida State University. In her spare time she participates in community service organizations, enjoys outdoor adventures, and travels to as many new locations as possible.

You can still get your copy of the book for $3 off on pre-orders through SYPP’s website! Use the coupon code READ.

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