My Rape Reality - Part 1

My Rape Reality - Part 1

Exposure is the truth.
Exposure is saying ENOUGH. Exposure is confidence.
Exposure might help mend some wounds.
Exposure recognizes a need for change.
Exposure is what is needed in order for any individual to not be raped or continuously be systematically victimized by a university.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) brings awareness to the issue but the issue cannot and should not be confined to 30 days of the year.

Rape culture is disgusting. It is worsened and supported by university administrators who routinely fail to keep students, staff, and faculty safe. No survivor should be shunned or feel like an outcast for gathering the courage to come forward and report his or her rape.

Tre'Shonda Sheffey speaking at a Campus Accountability and Safety Act "CASA" (legislation authored by Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, sponsored by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand) press conference, on April 26, 2016 in the Capital Building Washington D.C.

1 of 5 women will experience rape or attempted while attending college. If the university is not creating a safe environment by expelling rapists from our campus, then how can rape be prevented?

I believe in more than the stereotypes for rape. I believe that not only women are raped but men are too. I believe that college and universities are afraid to admit this is an issue because they are more concerned about receiving funding and endorsements rather than the well-being of students. It is time for the administration to realize not every person who is raped had to have been date raped. I believe that rape has no color. It is time for the administration to address the issue before this happens to one of their daughters, sons, granddaughters, grandsons, etc. while attending college.

Multiple stories involve undergraduate students being sexually assaulted, however I was a law student when I was raped. So rape culture surpasses students seeking undergraduate degrees.

I could not understand why an “unbiased” judicial board at my law school handled the judicial procedure. It amazes me that my assailant and I had to choose the individuals who would sit on the board yet it was deemed an issue and conflict of interest for any members of the law school to sit on the board for my hearing. As a prior student attending professional school I believe that it should be the responsibility of graduate and professional studies programs to have a very stringent zero tolerance policy. Colleges and universities should be held responsible for allowing a survivor’s assailant to continue in a program when putting the survivor and other students at risk for a repeat offense. Rather the level of risk placed on the general public is far greater. The behavior of sexual violence cannot be curtailed when continuously in this male dominated culture they are allowed to continue succeeding in professional programs and move up the ladder while violating someone else.

As a professional student one is committed to his/her studies and the goal of working in that particular profession, but will be shunned if they make the decision to come forward. It’s a silent ultimatum that our society promotes. We must move past this logic. That logic being “boys will be boys”. How the cycle is promoted:

• In grade school: Action — inappropriate touching and it is labeled as “boys will be boys.”
Solution –Don’t do that and pat on the back.
• In middle and high school: Action — inappropriate touching and sayings in order to be accepted that leads to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Solution — Think about the assailant’s future (i.e. scholarship opportunities for college, reputation, etc.) and pat on the back.
• In college and professional school: Action — seek and thrill. The assailant goes through other extreme measures to prey on his/her next victim.
Solution — Think about his/her assailant’s future. There has been no report meanwhile the assailant enters the professional world and community as a risk to many.

Rape is not limited between the walls of college and universities. It extends to our communities when we do not correct the cycle.

New York Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand asks Tre'Shonda to speak at 22:32 (CASA Press Conference D.C. 2016-04-26)

Notice lack of mention of reporting of the incident by the assailant at each level so there is no evidence of the cycle illustrated above because the person who has been sexually assaulted and/or harassed has not been encouraged to report but only cover up the actions. In each setting, our schools in America, lack of understanding and sensitivity of the issue is alarming. We, the students, fund the institution and it is reckless and insensitive when colleges and universities do not adhere to the Title IX policies or do not have a sexual assault policy in place.

It has been two years since I reported my assailant and filed a Title IX claim against my university for its improper handling of the investigation. My case is still under investigation by the Office for Civil Rights under the Department of Education. Before I share my story please I want to remind other survivors that we are in this together. After this Sexual Assault Awareness Month this will remain an issue that cannot be confined within a number.

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