Ken was my voice teacher. I never admired anyone more than him. He meant the world to me. It would be safe to say that we did not have a typical teacher/student relationship. I was infatuated with him. He was tall dark and had the voice of an angel. But he was eleven years older than I was, and he was my teacher. I learned from him, I confided in him, and I trusted him. I never pictured myself being with him. I never dreamt he would think of me as a ‘woman’ and not just a love-stricken seventeen year-old vocal student.
When I began my lessons with Ken, they took place at school, but then somewhere down the line, he wanted them to be at his house. He was the teacher, and I was told that you never argued with what the teacher had to say. Our next lesson, I showed up at his house at 1:00 sharp, ready to sing. I had never been to his house before, and I was a little nervous about seeing it. However, when he opened the door and greeted me with his cute little smile, I knew there was nothing to be nervous about. We started our lesson by singing a few songs for fun (we always sang duets together).
He said that I wasn’t singing my best and asked if I was stressed. Of course I was stressed! I was the lead in our school musical and it would open in two weeks. “One can never reach their full potential when they are stressed,” he said, as he began to rub my shoulders. This was weird for me, but like I said, he was the teacher, and you never argue with the teacher. We finished our lesson, I thanked him and I was on my way out. Before I left though, he took my face in his hands, and he kissed me goodbye. I didn’t really know what to do. Had that just happened? Did he just kiss me?
Did I kiss him back? Is that wrong? He’s too old! I’m too young! He’s my teacher! We spoke on the phone several times that week, but never brought up the kiss. It was just hanging out there-in limbo. I figured that since he hadn’t mentioned it, it meant nothing, and we would just go on being what we were-friends. The next week, I went to his house for my lesson again. When I went into the living room, the keyboard wasn’t there. Ken said that he had been practicing last night before he went to sleep, and left it in his bedroom, so we’d just have the lesson in there.
Again, he is the teacher, and you don’t argue with the teacher. I followed him into the bedroom and started getting my books out. Suddenly, he threw me onto the bed and assaulted me. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t realize what was happening. I was terrified, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The assault happened, and afterwards he sent me home with a threat that if anyone ever found out, no one would believe me and I would be “finished”. I took that threat to heart and didn’t mention my assault for close to six months.
I was a changed person-a very unpleasant and deathly unhappy person. I shut out those who were closest to me and I turned away from the helping hand of the Lord. I felt that for some reason, my life wouldn’t get any worse, and it couldn’t get any better. I was living in a zone, a zone of nothingness. I was letting what were supposed to be the “happiest times of my life” pass me by without a second thought. Instead of going to the movies and hanging out with my friends, I stayed at home and felt sorry for myself. In doing so, I robbed myself, my family and my friends of the happiness we deserved.
I didn’t listen to anyone who wanted to help me, and I did not let anyone listen to me. When I cried, I cried because I felt scared, and alone, but I would not let anyone get close enough to help me through my pain. Eventually, my daily routine of sulking around, and trying not to be noticed became so dull that I could not stand it. I was lost. I did not know what I was supposed to do anymore. Who would help me now, after I had pushed everyone so far away? Ken said they wouldn’t believe me, so why even report? But I knew that I had to do something, because I saw who his next victim would be.
He had gotten a new student to take my place… and I was not going to let this happen to her as well. I decided I had to tell what Ken had done to me. I didn’t know who to tell, or what to tell, or even when to tell. All I knew was why I had to tell. My case made me very aware of what a problem sexual assault is in the world today, and it also made me aware of how overlooked sexual assault is. Now, two years later, I want to do something to change that. The jury found Ken not guilty after a long and grueling court process.
After all I went through, it came down to the fact that there was no physical evidence that he had assaulted me. He is a free man, with the knowledge and the power to assault many more unsuspecting victims in the years to come. I was outraged when I heard the verdict! Nevertheless, I will not be victimized again, and I will do my very best to see to it that no one else will have to suffer as I did. If I cannot stop Ken, I will use my knowledge to try to prevent other assailants. Many people do not know the facts about sexual assault. One reason why many are so ill informed is apathy about the topic.
Before I was a victim, I did not want to take the time to learn the facts. Why should I care? Coming from a small town, I thought that it would never happen to me or any one I knew, so I just didn’t want to learn the facts. To this day, I regret that apathy with all of my heart. I believe that had I taken the time to learn the facts, my assault might not have happened. Because of what I have learned, I think that sexual assault awareness programs should be offered as mandatory seminars at Millikin for each incoming freshman to attend.
Such seminars will inform students on the facts of sexual assault, and use testimonials from assault survivors to relate those facts to the student’s lives. They will encourage women to protect themselves and to demand respect, and simultaneously teach men that respecting a woman is more attractive than assaulting one. Through these seminars, Millikin can put the fairy tale that so many women have lived with for so long to rest – the feeling that “it will never happen to me. ” As much as I hope and pray another female will never be assaulted, I know that this is an unrealistic thought.
Women will get assaulted, crimes will be committed; it is Millikin’s responsibility to help eliminate assault from our campus. I understand that sitting through seminars of this nature could perhaps make students feel uncomfortable. However, having to learn about sexual assault first-hand because of my lack of knowledge on the issue confirms my beliefs that these seminars are necessary. Being the victim of a crime such as sexual assault is a truly horrific experience. Within a few minutes, my body was violated, my life changed forever.
Could I have prevented my assault? Perhaps not, but had I been educated about sexual assault, I might have been able to recognize the signs that it was going to happen and prevented myself from being in a dangerous situation. In an article about sexual assault, an author from the Associated Press wrote: “Education is the most important thing,” (Associated Press). I believe that Millikin needs to begin educating its students both on how to prevent assault and what to do if it does occur.
An important reason why victims who have been assaulted don’t report these crimes is lack of knowledge. I didn’t report right away because I did not know who to tell, and what would happen when I did. I did not want to be a victim again, and I was afraid of becoming a victim of the system. I did not know what kind of protection was offered for victims of crimes such as assault. Millikin has the power to educate people on these facts and situations. Knowledge is power, and assault is about power.
If a woman has knowledge about sexual assault, she has the power to prevent herself from being in a dangerous situation. And, if an assault still occurs, what she has learned here at Millikin in her awareness seminars will give her the power to do the right thing, and the knowledge to know who to report it to. Why should Millikin become involved? Because “college campuses are very dangerous places for women” (DeGrow). As Susan Warshaw points out, the risk of rape and assault is four times higher for women aged 16 to 24 than for any other population group (n. p. ).
In addition to that startling fact, a study conducted by Mary Koss found that “1 in 4 women in college today have been victims of rape, and almost 90% of them knew their assailants” (Koss). Such statistics remind us of how often these horrible crimes are committed. When a woman is assaulted, her whole life changes. Her demeanor, her attitude towards men and her personality change. And it is not just the victim who suffers; her family and friends do as well. Their lives will also change dramatically. One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of assaults is that most women never get their lives back.
Selected Nation Crime Victimization Survey Statistics show that in 1994, there were 433,000 rapes and sexual assaults reported in the United States. That number is astronomical, and it is even more disturbing when you consider that only 32% of the victims reported their case to law enforcement. I realize that sexual assault seminars would not have an effect on everyone who attended, however, reaching even a few people would make the seminars worth offering. One college male who attended a sexual assault awareness seminar on his campus said: “You have opened my eyes to so much.
I was so blinded by all the sex talk and image of sex given to me by so many males. They never talk about raping a girl, but sex was such a manly thing to do… ” A response like this one makes me feel that these seminars are needed, especially after I stumbled upon the frightening statistic that “60% of male college students indicated some likelihood of raping or using force in certain circumstances” (Seals Press). Women need to be made aware. Assaults need to stop and Millikin needs to provide its students with the education on how this can happen.
It is too serious an issue to be ignored. Sexual assault can happen anywhere. It can happen to the strongest people in the smallest towns by someone a victim feels she can trust. Sexual assault is a very serious yet overlooked issue. The way I see it, Millikin University has two choices: we can take the easy way out and ignore the problem, hoping it will go away quietly on its own, or we can take a more effective route by trying to eliminate the problem by making students and faculty aware. The path we need to take is obvious, so why isn’t anything being done?