Laura Tries to Say Something Again

CW/TW/Generally I don’t want to take people places they don’t want to go: discussion of sexual violence and misconduct

I am a woman, and I am a human being. I have rights despite being a woman. I have rights because I am a woman.

Recently on the campus from which I graduated, there has been increased discussion of sexual misconduct and the complaint process. I fully support this increased discussion. It is necessary to create and foster a community that allows students of all genders to study and grow as individuals. I believe that is the point of a college, after all.

Now would be a good time to take a break and read Missoula by Jon Krakauer. If you don’t know about the complaint system in institutions of higher education or the way they work with/against/alongside the criminal justice system, it is a good starting point.

It does not, however, give a very good look into the way that sexual violence impacts a community. It does not explain how when someone you love is attacked, the world looks different. I do not mean metaphorically, I mean literally colors are darkened, figures appear to be fuzzy and misshapen.  The people you once trusted and believed to be friends now appear to be strangers. You have difficulty recognizing faces. You may end up having a visual hallucination that leaves you cowering in the basement of the concert hall for twenty minutes during a cappella practice. For example.

It does not describe the feelings that come when someone you once dated assaults someone else. The feelings of guilt and shame and utter disorientation. That someone you once loved is capable of something so heinous, that perhaps there was something you might have done to stop this from happening.

I do not know how to process these emotions appropriately. But I do know that I do not want others to go through similar experiences. I do not want the campus that I loved for four years to become an alien terrain to anyone else.

Sexual violence is unacceptable.

To those who do not see their victims as human, I have nothing but pity and anger for you. You do not have the right to take your fucked-upness out on anyone else.

To those who “mistakenly” violate someone else. Drunkenness is not an excuse. Uncertainty is not an excuse. If there is ANY doubt in your mind about whether something is wanted, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to be absolutely 100% certain.

If you do not have verbal and physical consent for a sexual act, do not do it.

Perhaps the fear of sexually assaulting someone should replace the constant fear of being sexually assaulted.

Perhaps the consequences for sexually assaulting someone should in some infinitesimally small way be equivalent to the consequences of being sexually assaulted: depression, feelings of isolation, decreased ability to function in social situations, PTSD, increased involvement in risky behaviors, loss of sleep, difficulty concentrating on school, significant time devoted to complaint process, etc. etc. etc.

Perhaps I don’t mean perhaps at all.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE VERBAL AND PHYSICAL CONSENT FOR A SEXUAL ACT, DO NOT DO IT.

Take care of yourselves. I am sending all my love.

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