Sexual Assault at DeSales: Exclusive Interview with Sexual Assault Survivor

Originally published in Issue 4, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (October 20, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Cowritten with Kimmie Semiday

College campuses across the nation are facing the growing epidemic of sexual assault. According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), women on college campuses are three times more likely to fall victim to an act of sexual violence than a woman not attending college. That means your friend, sister or you yourself, if you’re a woman, could be at a higher risk of experiencing sexual assault simply by attending a college or university.

While at college, 23.1 percent of undergraduate female students and 5.4 percent of graduate female students have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment, along with cases of stalking and assaults that have lead to physical force and violence (RAINN).

However, the sexual assault is not biased when it comes to what gender, race or sexual identity a person has. In fact, male college students ages 18-24 are 78 percent more likely to fall victim to sexual assault than other males. Along with this, 21 percent of transgender or non- conforming gender individuals have reported being sexually

assaulted on campus (RAINN).

Data collected from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) showed that 12.8 percent of “successful rapes” have occurred during or after a date, while nine in ten women knew their offender. This is alarming because out of the women victims of sexual assault, 22.8 precent of them had been previously raped multiple times.

Rape and sexual assault is more common on college campuses than other crimes such as theft; however, even the statistics provided don’t include those men and women that have been assaulted but choose not to report it. According to RAINN, women and men decided to avoid reporting their rape or sexual assault because they feared getting in trouble, believed nothing could be done for them, wanted to protect the rapist or believed that it was a personal matter.

This means that the problem becomes more prevalent than originally reported, because such a large number of individuals choose to remain silent on the matter. Unfortunately, this also means that those who are victims of sexual assault do not seek help or assistance after an incident.

Additionally, with the rise of sexual assault on campus, there has been a rise of news coverage that reports and exposes those sexual assaults. One of the most recent cases of this is the People v. Brock Turner case, where a Princeton University student raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster after leaving a party. He landed a mere six-month sentence in jail, where he served only three for good behavior.

News coverage was split between painting Turner as a successful college athlete that

had a bright future ahead of him, and showing Turner for who he really is: a rapist. This coverage allowed the public, both directly connected to university life and those on the outside, a firsthand look at the very real and alarming problem college campuses around the United States face.

It also allows rapists and those who choose to sexually assault any individual a look at the consequences for his or her actions. Turner is now a registered sex offender in two counties, and what his father deemed as a few minutes of action will follow him around for the rest of his life.

While statistics may seem like just numbers, those numbers represent real men and women around the U.S. that are dealing with the trauma of being victims to another’s selfish actions. Although DeSales is unlike other campuses that report high counts of sexual assault and rape, it is still a relevant and important topic that needs to be discussed.

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The Minstrel sat down for an exclusive interview from a source that chooses to remain anonymous. We have omitted details to keep the source’s identity protected.

Two years ago in 2014, a female DeSales student was sexually assaulted on campus by a male student. It was a typical afternoon and the two students were hanging out in her dorm room as friends when the situation escalated and he raped her.

There was absolutely no alcohol involved and she made it very clear she did not want to have sex with him. However, she physically could not get away and received many injuries including broken body parts and bruises.

Her good friend took her to urgent care for her physical injuries, and while she was there, the doctors highly suggested a rape kit; however, rape kits cannot be completed in urgent care, so she went to an emergency room later on that evening.

Speaking about her friend that took her to the hospital, she said, “He stood by my side the whole time, and I think that’s a huge thing. You need somebody there who’s going to support you and not be judgmental because I would not have made it through that night without him, at all.”

In most cases, a rape kit needs be completed within 72 hours so a crime lab can analyze any DNA. To get as much DNA as possible, RAINN suggests avoiding showering, using the restroom, changing clothes and combing hair. It is natural to want to do these things after a traumatic experience, and if any of these activities are done, the exam can still be performed.

During the exam, injuries that need immediate attention are taken care of first. The doctors and nurses will also ask questions about health history and the details of what happened during the assault. Next, is the head-to-toe examination, which may include internal examination of the mouth, vagina and/ or anus, and also samples of blood, urine and/or hair. Lastly, they offer medicines to prevent contracting STDS, HIV and other implications that could have happened from the sexual assault.

Under the Violence Against Women Act, sexual assault forensic exams are free of charge. Additionally, the decision to report is entirely up to the sexual assault victim. Having the rape kit ensures that the forensic evidence will be safely preserved if victims want to report at a later time.

After a rape kit is completed, the police must pick it up. Upper Saucon Police Department was called first, but since she was a DeSales student, DSUPD had

to gather the kit instead. The only person DSUPD informs is Wendy Krisak, director of counseling. Parents never have to find out if victims do not want them to.

The next day, Krisak sat down with the student and informed her of all her options. She could file an official report and press charges by speaking with director of university police Steven Marshall, she could make a Jane Doe report where she tells Marshall what happens in detail in case she wants to make an official report/press charges in the future or she can do nothing.

“Sometimes people make it seem like you have a duty to report it and press charges so it doesn’t happen to another girl and you want to be the person to do that, but sometimes situations just make you feel like you want it to be over. You don’t want to face anything that happened,” she said.

“As much as you wish to be that person to stop it from happening to other girls, you have to put your own mental state and well-being before anybody else. The Wellness Center here didn’t make me feel like I would be a horrible person if I just wanted it to all go away even if I chose to not do anything, not even make a Jane Doe report.”

In the end, she chose to make a Jane Doe report and stressed how important it was to be given that choice.

“It’s giving you a say when you feel like your voice and all your securities have been taken away.”

Ultimately, she wanted to put the situation behind her and let it go.

“I think when it happens you’re a victim, but as time goes on, you have the power to rise above the situation or not let the situation define who you are. And I’ve chose to let the situation not define who I am. I’m not my rape. I’m a person.”

She continued, “There are worse things that could have happened to me when I was sexually assaulted. There are still tough times: I ran into my rapist twice after it happened, and it of course, brings everything back.”

Reflecting on the rape now, she said, “You’re more conscious and you’re more aware of everything. I’m very aware of my surroundings, the people I choose to let into my life, especially my personal space, but I’m more than what happened to me.”

Although sexual assault is a vastly growing problem amongst college communities, it doesn’t have to be. By rallying together and standing up for those who have been assaulted and continuing to raise awareness on the issue, college students can one day attend school without the fear of becoming another victim.

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From The Editor’s Desk: Voting & Midterms

Originally published in Issue 3, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (October 6, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

The best part about the first presidential debate was hands-down reading all the funny tweets. One of my favorites was “Fun reminder: a former Secretary of State is debating a game-show host for the presidency tonight.”—Livia Scott @ LiviaLove.

While funny, this tweet also shows how ridiculous it is to have a game-show host debating whether or not he is fit for presidency. Trump should stick to game shows because he acted like a child, continuingly interrupting Senator Clinton and basically throwing a temper tantrum on live television. (“Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”)

I have seen some people online express their views that they are voting third party or not voting at all. I understand that they do not want to vote for either of these candidates, both who can be argued as unfit for the job. However, let’s face it: our next president is going to be Trump or Clinton. Not voting, or voting third party, isn’t going to change that. And if you haven’t already registered to vote, the last day for Pennsylvania residents is Oct. 11.

To be honest, I could not make it through the last forty-five minutes of the debate. First of all, I was pretty annoyed with watching the candidates, and second of all, I didn’t have the time to keep watching because I had so much schoolwork. This is the point in the semester when midterms mysteriously sneak up and slap you in the face. Maybe if midterms were actually in the middle of the semesters, they wouldn’t do that or hit you as badly. Additionally, this is the time when every teacher introduces that final paper and/or final project (don’t you love when they do the paper-project combination?) that is worth the majority of your grade.

College would be much more enjoyable if we could just learn and soak up the material, but no, we also have to prove we know this stuff. Luckily, by the time this is printed, midterms will be over and we should be past the halfway point of the semester. But no matter what time of the semester it is, there’s always one thing to do after another.

Somehow in between studying, working and family obligations, The Minstrel always manages to get finished. My staff’s passion for journalism and reporting on the news is what keeps The Minstrel running. Well that, and also Dunkin on layout weekends.

All jokes aside, we have some must-read articles on mental health awareness week, the “It’s on Us” campaign and not only the presidential election, but also the next president at DeSales. I’m so glad my staff and I keep coming up with great ideas, making each issue better than the last!

Peace, love & DeSales,

Kellie Dietrich
Editor-in-Chief

Mainstream Music Breaking Down Stereotypes

Originally published in Issue 3, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (October 6, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Mainstream music is hard to get away from. With fun beats and catchy lyrics, listeners sing along even when those lyrics are extremely degrading. They tell women they are objects: “a collectable, just like fine china” (thanks, Chris Brown) and also tell men to “grow a pair” (very nice, Ke$ha). The list of offensive songs are endless, but the list of empowering songs that stand up to the media’s stereotypes of men, women, blacks and other groups are much less prevalent. Check out these current mainstream songs that are challenging stereotypes and expectations:

“Sit Still, Look Pretty”— Daya

Daya challenges the many expectations of women in this song. She sings about not wanting to play dumb to attract a boy, and that she doesn’t need one in her life anyway. She will not stand for a man objectifying her or treating her like a “toy” and she doesn’t want to be his “puppet,” so she’d rather “fly solo.” Ultimately, Daya would rather be an independent, ambitious woman than anything else.

Daya sings, “Oh I don’t know what you’ve been told, but this gal right here’s gonna rule the world.” She’s implying that the world’s been told that men rule the world, but women are just as capable as men are to do anything they put their minds to.

Women are meant for being in the working world, not sitting pretty at home, waiting for their men to come home. She gets this point across through her humorous lyrics: “That Snow White, she did right, had seven men to do the chores, cause that’s not what a lady’s for.” This reference to Snow White could also explain the whistling in the song because the dwarfs always whistled while they worked.

“i hate u, i love u”—Gnash featuring Olivia O’Brien

Gnash and O’Brien paired up for this duet to create a conflicting love story about a relationship that is falling apart, and the feelings that go along with it. This song challenges masculine stereotypes when Gnash sings, “I know that I control my thoughts and I should stop reminiscing, but I learned from my dad that it’s good to have feelings.”

His dad taught him it’s okay for men to show emotions instead of hiding them to act tough. Some could also argue that his dad was not emotional, and Gnash made a decision that he did not want to end up like his father, but either way the lyrics are interpreted, he learned the importance of being honest and upfront about his feelings.

“Scars to Your Beautiful”— Alessia Cara

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Alessia Cara challenges the expectations of women to wear tight, form-fitting clothing by choosing to perform in jeans and t-shirts, and also doing her own hair and make-up. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Alessia Cara understands girls’ and women’s desires to fit into society’s rigid beauty standards. By comparing herself to Western ideals, the girl in her song doesn’t see that she is already beautiful in her own way.

“She has dreams to be an envy, so she’s starving; you know, covergirls eat nothing.” In these lyrics Cara understands that so many girls and women have eating disorders due to attaining this body ideal, which is ultimately unattainable. Cara inspires girls by singing, “And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart,” because she has hopes that society will one day cherish the uniqueness that makes every girl beautiful.

“Formation”—Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s “Formation” has been widely referred to as an empowering black anthem. With the music video set in New Orleans, she brings up the reality of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath while also endorsing the Black Lives Matter movement. The video is full of statement making imagery with artwork featuring Martin Luther King Jr. and the words “Stop shooting us” graffiti on a wall to reference all the devastating shootings. Beyoncé also sings about her Southern history and is proud of where she came from, empowering blacks to embrace their roots as well.

Overall, “Formation” is not just an anthem, but also a call to action. She tells ladies to get in formation and slay. “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ‘til I own it,” sings Beyoncé. She applauds her own talents while also criticizing the way blacks have been treated.