To Stephanie, With Regards, A Sexual Assault Survivor

By William Tringali

This piece is written in response to “To the Media, Love BSU” posted to Odyssey: http://theodysseyonline.com/bridgewater-state/to-the-media-love-bsu/199620. The views expressed in this piece are my own and are not representative of the BSU Honors Program community as a whole.

You’ve experienced it. You’re watching tv, minding your own business, and suddenly, the news is talking about the latest sexual assault that has happened on the Bridgewater State University campus. You’re watching, reading, or listening to the media, getting another reason to actually realize that sexual assault is a rampant problem at your university. And how do you decide to react? You brew up with hatred, not at the assault itself, but at the media for daring to actually say something bad about your “home.”

To Stephanie and to everyone that validates the opinion that news outlets should ‘focus more on the positive’, here is what you actually said to the many sexual assault survivors on the BSU campus:

I understand that you don’t like people asking you about the blatantly terrible things that occur on this campus. I understand that it upsets you when people ask “Wasn’t that the campus where the pedophile was molesting children in the Children’s Center?” Or, “Is that the local university that I know about with the multiple reported sexual assaults?”

Instead of thinking that these reports make BSU look bad, think instead of the survivors. Think for a moment about the dozens of victims of assault that must live out their lives with the memory of such an attack. You’re uncomfortable with people discussing the amount of sexual assaults on Bridgewater State University’s campus?

People have been sexually assaulted.

And though you did say “Sexual assault is never OK”, so at least we’re on the same side of this hotly debated topic of whether it is totally “OK” to sexually assault people, you immediately aligned it with silence. You told everyone that for every three tick marks in the “Negative” category of BSU news, we need to have four in the “Positive” category. You have told everyone that we need to drown out this horrific issue on our campus. You have asked the media to drown out the cries of survivors. You have done this because apparently the worst moment of someone’s life overshadowed how fun Homecoming was.

Silence is what we are fighting against.

I can only imagine another sexual assault survivor reading your post, most likely immediately thinking back to their own attack, and then continuing to read your rant about how OUR personal trauma is causing YOU so much stress.

You may not have intended to say “Be quiet” to sexual assault victims with what you wrote, but by putting these words on that page you broadcasted a message that the Bridgewater student body would rather all of this mess just go away, refocused on football games and Homecoming activities, than actually be solved.

You have told the survivors of this campus that you wish we would all just shut up, told the media reporting OUR stories of survival, stories that demand “Something must be done!” to simply stop, because it makes you EMBARRASSED of BSU’s reputation.

No, we are not the only campus that has an issue with sexual assault.

But if you love your “home” as much as you say you do, you’ll stop telling your “family” that you would rather their stories be silenced than upset this “tight-knit community.” If you really need a “positive” message, perhaps you should take pride in the fact that Bridgewater State University IS being so transparent about this issue.

If you love your family as much as you say you do – Fight for them.

Fight to stop sexual assault on this campus. Start an awareness campaign. Use your position as a blogger to highlight this issue, to raise the volume of the voices with stories to tell.

Stop telling people to stop talking.

Start telling people to act.

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2 thoughts on “To Stephanie, With Regards, A Sexual Assault Survivor

  1. Beautifully, powerfully, and empathically articulated. It may be daunting and disturbing to shine a light into the darker interstices of our culture, but it’s only by identifying, naming, acknowledging, and excoriating the social evils that lurk therein that we can extirpate them from our world. The true scourge here is a rape culture that remains so entrenched that it enables and even banalizes sexual assault; and the assailants who carry out this culture’s outrageous message. This is why President Obama created a massive, nation-wide investigation of this crisis, and why every voice speaking out against it is one more candle in the dark.

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