Fact: One in five women will be sexually assaulted in college
A multitude of national and individual school studies over the past fifteen years have come to the universal conclusion that approximately 20% of female students will be sexually assaulted during their time at college*.
I am one of those 20%.
It happened during my senior at college. I was living in a house just off campus when I was jarred awake by the sound of my bedroom door crashing open. Before I could comprehend what was happening, he was on top of me. I somehow found the strength to fight back and was fortunate that this would-be rapist eventually retreated. Though my voice was hoarse from screaming and my fingers bloody from his bites, I physically survived the attack. Emotionally, however, my sense of security was shaken. As a means to heal, I began writing about that night and the changes to my life.
During the years since college, this event and my writings became the basis and inspiration for my soon to be published book, Free of Malice. At one point, I mentioned to my brother-in-law that if I had owned a gun, I would have shot the guy as he fled. He countered that my actions might not have been deemed self-defense, which got me thinking about the criminal justice system. Though Free of Malice is a hypothetical legal story, the attack on the main character was drawn from my real life experience. Now that the book is in the advance reader stage, I look back and realize what a cathartic journey it has been. Even better, I’ve been told by other survivors that reading about my insecurities in the days after the attack made them feel more normal.
On November 19 at 9:00pm EST On November 22 at 8:00pm CNN will air The Hunting Ground to a national audience. This groundbreaking documentary about sexual assault on American college campuses discusses the failure of universities to address the problem, and the rise of a new student movement on how to handle campus assaults along with a survivors’ network. The Hunting Ground is written and directed by Academy Award®-nominated, two-time Emmy®-winning film director Kirby Dick, and produced by Academy Award®-nominated, two-time Emmy®-winning filmmaker Amy Ziering. To date, the film has been shown globally at grassroots screenings and has sparked a national conversation. I hope you will join me in watching this broadcast and continuing the conversation to help further the work of survivors demanding awareness, accountability and real change.
After the screening there will be a Sexual Assault on Campus roundtable discussion on CNN featuring legal and counseling experts and filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.
As a side note, the events behind the film inspired Lady Gaga to record Til It Happens to You, an intensely moving song that calls for support and compassion for sexual assault survivors and is fast becoming an anthem for survivors around the world.
Help spread the word. Either share this post or share this link from The Hunting Ground Film.
*Source: Association of American Universities (2015), Washington Post-Kaiser Foundation Poll (2015), England (2015), Krebs (2007), Fisher (2000), Koss (1987), and many, many more.
Photo credits: The Hunting Ground Film, CNN, Lady Gaga | Sarah Ackerman.
Note: Due to the news cycle, CNN will now air #TheHuntingGround on Sunday, November 22 at 8:00 pm ET.