As sexual crimes become a bigger and bigger issue on college campuses, we are faced with one question: what happens when you continue to go to the same school as your rapist? According to RAINN, a college student is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed. I’ve found myself in this position and while it is a tough one, I believe anybody out there is strong enough to make it through as well. We’re left in a stressful position as to how we’re going to keep our education going, but I believe there are a few important things we need to remember.
1. Don’t let it bring down your success.
No matter what level of education you’re in, your success is the most important factor. School is stressful. High school decides what colleges you’ll make it into. College determines what career path you may go down. Your success is determined greatly by not only your GPA, but your personal well-being. What you’ve been through doesn’t define your future. I find it’s important to take time to mentally heal ourselves in order to gain success in education. Nowadays, many universities have implemented policies where professors are required to be flexible with students suffering not only from physical ailments, but mental disorders as well. If you’re suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression, or any other disorder, talk to your school officials. Universities offer numerous resources to help students struggling. At the end of the day, you have to remember that for academic success, mental clarity is number one.
2. It’s okay to transfer.
Transferring classes or even schools doesn’t mean you’re running away. It was a common misconception for myself that if I were to leave the school that my abuser went to, that it would mean I was giving up on myself. That is not the case at all. According to Title IX policies, schools are required to provide accommodations to survivors that courts cannot. Some of these can include academic accommodations such as extra help in class or an extension on projects, dorm or classroom transfers, and mental health support. Don’t be afraid to step forward to a trusted school official if you need to switch classes or devise a safe route. Completely transferring schools is another solution, although more drastic. Personally taking that route, I was initially left with a feeling of defeat. Don’t let yourself think that. Transferring schools can serve as a fresh start where you can continue focusing on your education.
3. Academically and mentally, you are strong.
As aforementioned with the subject of success, it’s important for you to excel in your education. During the period of recovery, whether or not you decide to report, your grades may plummet or your activity performance may diminish. You’re stronger than this patch of your life. My college grades have experienced what my friends called a “Sophomore Slump,” but I experienced as recovering from a sexual assault. It’s vital to worry about your transcript, but these grades don’t have to be there forever. By getting help and contacting school officials, you may be pardoned certain classes and given a “passing” so your transcript doesn’t suffer. Many colleges do this to assist in recovery processes and to aid survivors. They know it’s not your fault and those grades don’t belong to you. If a pardon can’t be served, most universities offer a retake of classes where the new grade will be the permanent replacement on your transcript. In addition to this, colleges will offer you counseling services to heal you not only academically, but mentally.
Going to the same school as your abuser is very common for many survivors. While you may feel alone in the moment, just remember the large number of resources available for you. School systems, especially universities, are implementing more and more policies everyday to better help survivors. Knowledge is your power. Don’t let anyone take that from you.