Sexual Assault Turned Me Into A News Story


“Sex assault at XXX University sparks police warning”

“RCMP looking for suspect after second assault at XXX”

“XXX student assaulted on campus”.

These are just the first three headlines I found when entered “XXX sexual assault” into the Google search bar. I guess that was when it really hit me — I was becoming a news story.

I am writing this so that finally someone hears a side to sexual assault that isn’t acknowledged as often as it should, the side of the person it happened to. Finally I can say what happened. That what is being referred to as the “second sexual assault incident,” stops being just that, an incident, a story and starts being seen as what it should be, a harsh reality into campus life.

I guess I should start with what no newspaper has managed to capture, an actual element beyond the x-ray of facts, an element that is just too mundane for any newspaper to capture.

When I turned around to take out my keys and saw a man standing behind me it never occurred to me that he was there to harm me. Call me naïve but I actually waved and was about to wish him a good night, I thought he was a neighbor I had simply never met or another student.

If you’d like to read what happened after that, you can read one of dozens of news stories. I know I have. That’s the thing: when you’re attacked it becomes public interest to warn everyone else. You as a human with actual feelings, are forgotten about. You become a subject; a subject for a journalist, a subject for the police to interrogate and dig into, a subject who doesn’t have feelings but simply the ability to recall a nose, hair and a pair of eyes.

An attack like this isn’t personal, I know I didn’t do anything to deserve this, no one did, but the way a campus reacts is to an attack is. I already feel violated as I walk around campus hearing conversations about “that girl that was attacked”, or while I sit in class and have my peers participate in a discussion about an attack that happened to me. The fact that I am a student, an individual who goes to class, studies, has a life and her own stories is forgotten about.

I sit through a class, where the professor actually warned against walking home at night, wearing skirts, and going out at night. I wanted to raise my hand, stand up and say,

“This isn’t my fault. Who are you to tell me how to live my life? I shouldn’t have to worry about walking home at night. I wasn’t asking for it and I most definitely do not want to become a news sensation.”

What students in this one class never talked about, and what no newspaper will tell you, is how your perspective changes. How you just become angry. Every time I see myself referred to as a victim, I get angry. I am not victim and I am not a survivor. I am a person. Labeling myself as either acknowledges that this event will change something about the way I live my life. I know this happened to me, but I am okay, or I will be. I am not a weak Cinderella-esque character, who relies on others, I have never been that woman and I never will be.

It makes me angry how we live in a society where I should have to fear walking home, and more bluntly where, I have to fear men because I am a woman, where, rape culture isn’t halted but rather perpetrated through television, song lyrics and simply through our words.

“Dude, I totally raped that midterm.”

Naw, “dude” pretty sure that’s not what you did.

So here, a voice of the “the woman who was attacked”, not just a news story, and not just a number.

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