Over the last few weeks a written conversation was started on a bathroom stall door in the Bellamy building on FSU’s campus. The question posed from an anonymous survivor, “How do I get over being raped?” Not knowing where to turn she took a marker out and wrote “the question” on the back of bathroom stall. And women didn’t hesitate to respond.
The “estimated” statistic is that 1 in 4 college women will become a survivor of rape. But because 60% of college rapes are not reported, it’s hard to tell what the real number is. Which means at a university that has over 40,000 students an estimated 10,000 of them will survive violence and less than 4,000 will actually be documented. Maybe as more women reach out to one another they can also encourage each other to report their crime to allow for documentation and evidence that this crime is happening every day.
The good news is that the conversation on college rape is starting to happen more and more. Not because more services are being offered, but because women are seeking a community of people that empower them to see themselves as a survivor. They are learning ways to prevent a future assault, report their own case the authorities, and they are also owning their healing and recovery journey. These women are all seeking a way to move on with their lives, continue their studies, and not allow their rape to stop them from pursing their dreams. And as more survivors speak out they become part of the movement to restore justice back into their lives.
One woman responded to the original question with, “I have been raped too….just know you are not alone.” On this one bathroom stall 2 survivors chose to reach out and become heard. It has been incredible to watch a community unfold. And in order to move rape survivors in their healing, as a community we need to become more transparent about this huge issue. And we also need to create an environment and culture in which survivors begin to feel empowered to report their violence and not stigmatized
From practical self defense skills, to attending counseling, to seeking out other forms of healing college women are coming together and recognizing they do not have to heal alone. And these conversations might be the most important thing to allow survivors to understand that the recovery process of rape is filled with questions: and it’s okay to ask one another.
To the woman who posed the question on the bathroom stall thank you for reclaiming your voice. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said,
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Are you a survivor looking for empowerment? Contact Reclaiming Lost Voices are our team will help guide you in your recovery process: firstname.lastname@example.org.