Two Days Like These Days

Hey. As soon as I finished writing yesterday, my life became someone else’s, as I assisted one of our new students with a sexual assault case. That was 5 hours yesterday, and looks to be a couple more today. Yesterday was about reporting the incident and helping the victim. Today is about clarifying issues with the alleged assaulter. I say alleged not because we don’t believe yesterday’s student. Rather, that’s the official term we use at the college until a decision is made by the Dean of Students.

This is the first one of these I’ve had to do in 10 years of being a coordinator. I have worked on sexual harassment before, as well as a domestic situation when a wife wanted to leave her home. But this is new turf.

Last night I was empty like a vacuum jar. Not angry, not sad, but empty. I slept a lot and stared at the ceiling a lot. Apparently, it takes a lot out of you to be moral and language support in this kind of case.

The people involved were older people, not traditional college age students. This situation is everywhere, in every culture. I was very impressed with my college’s machine for dealing with such things. Within minutes, this student had a counselor, a dean of students, a safety office and a police officer working on her case. And everything was brilliantly handled. Color me impressed. Good job, college of mine.

AND somewhere out there are two Sudanese men who approached the woman after the incident to try to take care of her. When she wanted nothing to do with them, they went and found a female friend of theirs who talked the woman into spending the night with her, not outside. These Samaritans’ names were forgotten in the wake of shock, but I am so proud of them, and grateful.

So, listen up. You’ve heard me rant about abuse and sexual violence. Take all those things I’ve said before as given. Realize that no woman is immune. This woman was staying with trusted friends and things went pear-shaped. Shame on any of you who try to minimize the issue of harassment and assault. You can pretend to yourself that reality is different than it is. Those of you, men and women, who minimize it are as bad as the criminals that commit these offenses, because you enable them to exist. This is everyone’s issue, my brothers and sisters who are victims, my brothers and sisters who are allies, my brothers and sisters from all over the world.

Get with the program, people. I really, really don’t ever want to do this again.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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