The Decaturian

You Are Stronger Than You Think.

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You Are Stronger Than You Think.

Photo by Athena Pajer

Photo by Athena Pajer

Photo by Athena Pajer

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Let’s talk about #MeToo. It was one of the most courageous movements our generation has ever seen, but it’s taken two steps forward, demolishing workplace harassment, and one massive step back (Hi, Brett).  

Now we have a terrifying question on our minds: What about college students? What about us?

For us, HR is a little bit more difficult to reach. That’s less of the university’s fault and more to do with the nature of many sexual assault cases, here: they often involve parties.

I’ll always remember my first college party. There were flashing lights, music, friends, dancing, grinding, things – substances – that could get me in a lot of trouble – and sex.

Only a few days before, I had been just an innocent, bookish high school grad, packing my things in my safe little room in my parents’ house. I was craving adventure, and I found it. At my first party, I thought I found my home. I was among people who were trying to enjoy their youth, just like me. There’s no better feeling than that.

However, all the time, someone decides to take another young man or woman, just like me and you, who just wants to enjoy their young life and live it on the edge – and pull them off a cliff. The story changes.

#MeToo was created to help victims from all over the world support each other, but what can help you, a young person just starting out, overcome the fear that takes over when someone takes control of your body? Then, the embarrassment you feel about telling anybody – or the despair from thinking that nothing can be done because the assaulter is just too powerful? There’s no hashtag for that.

Instead, Millikin students need to know something: they have an army of real, powerful, caring, loving people who want to give you faith in humanity — again. It’s called a community, and Millikin’s community is stronger than people think. It’s full of people like you and me.

No one at all should feel ashamed about something happening to them. It can happen to anyone, and the real strength is not in silence, but in reporting sexual assault.  

When the people who attackers think are “weak” and “won’t tell anyone because they’re scared,” get all their resources on their side – The school, the law, their friends – the world changes. Attackers get scared.

Don’t let them get away with it. Tell someone what they did.

Use the bravery inside you to save others. You become the hero that everyone needs, especially people just like you.

Especially people like me, who just two years ago, were looking forward to their first college party.

Your attacker will be sorry once Millikin turns against them. We are on your side, not theirs. There are people everywhere around campus who, whether or not you know them well or not, will help you, too. Of course, you need to be the person to take the first step.

Open up to someone you trust, first.

It’s terrifying to open up about sexual harassment, assault, and rape, but there are ways to do it that aren’t so scary. R.A.s, Peer Mentors, professors, or any faculty member can be a person to help you take the first steps.

It might seem easier to just let it go away, but if I am still upset about the person that catcalled me five years ago, what your attacker did isn’t going to disappear from your memory.

Report it to someone. Let people help. Make your attacker pay.

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You Are Stronger Than You Think.