When I was young, I was always told that college was somewhere that I would learn, flourish, and grow.
No one told me that it would also be the home to one of the most traumatic experiences that will ever happen to me.
No one told me that 1 in every 5 college-age women will be sexually assaulted in their time in school.
In 2016, I was one of them.
I was 19. It was before the Me-Too movement had gained traction and it was normalized sharing experiences to help others. I did not realize what was happening until it was too late. I then forgot about it for months. Very few people knew, and I tried to forget it happened.
I had already been elected into student government and one of my main jobs was to head the Sexual Assault Awareness Committee. I could not bring myself to start the committee for that school year.
About a year after it happened in 2017, all the hurt came back. I was so depressed. I did not sleep, I kept playing in my head what happened and how I could have stopped it. I pushed away my friends, I told my parents, and always just wanted to be alone.
After a month I decided to pick myself up, get a therapist, and make a conscious decision to find the strength within me to move forward.
Eventually, I came to the realization that every survivor’s journey is different.
I came to realize a powerful truth that just because I was not ready to stand up and talk about my experience, it did not make me incapable of helping others through similar traumas.
I had to heal in my own time and get through it the way I thought was best.
After shutting down the committee for a few months because of what had happened, I restarted the committee, wanting to help others that were survivors as well. I worked tirelessly to provide resources for survivors and to meet their needs wherever they might be in their journey.
The very events that I thought might break me instead made me stronger.
I do not hate him. I am mad at what he did and how it made me feel months and years later.
In my current role, as the Campus Advocate for CSU Bakersfield, I am able to be the resource for college students that I needed. I hope my story illustrates how important it is to bring awareness and that you are not alone.
When I was young, I was always told that college was somewhere that I would learn, flourish, and grow. No one told me that it would also be the home to one of the most traumatic experiences that will ever happen to me.
I will always remember the first month of getting my undergraduate degree I walked by the Student Government table and saw my peers advocating for awareness of sexual assault. They were passionate in their delivery of information and were authentic in their concern for all that are affected by sexual assault. I was impacted and motivated to empower the community in the same way.
These experiences helped shape my goals of being in public service by realizing my passion for advocating for the various parts of the community I was in.
Olivia Warren is the Campus Advocate at CSUB. She provides confidential support to students, staff and faculty who have experienced sexual misconduct. Reach her at (661) 654-6210 or [email protected]
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