I love Joe Biden. And I am not really political. He has been a huge part of the "End Sexual Assaults on Campuses" revolution.
I admire him for his stand and for what he's been through personally while serving his country for most of his life. He lost his wife and nearly his children from a car accident before he was sworn into office years ago. And he recently lost one of his sons to brain cancer. And still he trudges on, speaking passionately about making college campuses safer and transforming the rape culture that influences our society.
And I applaud the investigation teams for releasing the colleges who are on the list for violating Title 9 issues and for not handling sexual assault cases correctly.
These are all huge steps forward.
And I hope and pray that they are making a difference.
The average assault victim is severely affected for at least a few years and usually for the rest of their lives in some capacity.
Not to mention the family and friends who are also affected. It is painful to watch someone you love go through being violated, feeling the shame, depression, anxiety, lack of confidence and the post traumatic stress syndrome.
I read in an article that one school was very slow to move, for fear that their reputation would be damaged.
That is a huge disconnect. The point of higher education is to help students reach their highest potential and go out and help change the world. Ok, and for many students, they just want to graduate and be able to get a good job in their field, and be able to pursue the American dream.
My point is, that the entire college experience is supposed to help, not hurt it's students and their support systems.
And I have compassion for the people who run colleges right now. I know that every school where I have spoken for has been affected by the economy. Many staff members are now doing several jobs because of budget cuts.
And it's a competitive market, so I understand about needing to preserve a school's reputation, but at what cost?
Let's deal with the issue so we don't have to worry about reputations.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
We can all vote with our dollars. We have to keep talking about rape culture in our country and the double standards that many athletes and certain groups of young men are given.
I've been speaking about sexual assaults on college campuses since 2010. I've done a lot of work to help me process my assault so that I can then help others. I've been blessed to have access to therapy, yoga, energy work, support groups and an incredible support network.
And yet, I was taken aback yesterday. I've been working with a writing partner to help me tweak my message in order to reach more young people. My fellow writer kept asking me: But what were the repercussions after you were assaulted? How did it affect you? Give me specifics.
And although I've told my assault story in front of thousands of students all over the country, I'd never drilled down this deep in the details. I became present to how deeply I was affected by being taken advantage of in a closet when I was incapacitated.
I saw how I couldn't process other losses that happened in my family right after the assault.
I saw how I couldn't be in a healthy relationship with a guy who actually, truly loved me, because I was so scarred.
I saw the pattern of being attracted to "bad" men, because deep down I didn't think I deserved better.
I am not trying to sound like a victim. I believe that I chose this path so that I could heal myself and then help others. I believe it's a huge part of my life's purpose.
My point is that even though I've done a lot of work around this issue. And even though I am a strong person, being sexually assaulted really affected every area of my life: emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. It affected how I related to men and not just romantic relationships, but also authority figures. It affected my confidence, self esteem and trust.
And dear reader, I do not want your pity or even empathy. I want your partnership that you will join me and Joe Biden, and thousands of others to Stand Up and Speak Out. When we keep talking about sexual assault and the messed up messages that we all get from the media, we can stop this pattern of shame and stigma.
Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated byRAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.