Every time I run, I think about when I was groped on campus. It happened last year on the St. Marks bike trail by Pensacola Street when a boy came up from behind me and grabbed my butt.
I didn’t know the boy and he didn’t know me. He touched me and kept running, but I didn’t stop. I ran after him through the tunnel leading to Doak Stadium, keeping him in my line of vision. Picking up my pace, I decided to confront him.
He glanced back at me several times, enough for me to see his face clearly. Once within my reach, he turned around and started to apologize, saying he mistook me for his ex-girlfriend who I apparently resembled.
I yelled and threw various curse words at the boy. I wanted to believe him, but in my gut I knew his excuse wasn’t genuine.
The week after the incident, I found myself writing about this sexual assault experience for the FSView & Florida Flambeau. I didn’t know what to expect after the article was published. I told my story and spoke out against FSU’s issues with sexual assault, hoping I wouldn’t be harassed for speaking out so strongly.
The news of my report to FSUPD spread like wildfire. Thoughts screamed in my head, but on the outside, everything seemed unusually quiet. I heard nothing from random internet prowlers or anyone trying to dismantle my story.
I went throughout my days with a strange feeling in my chest. I wondered what people were saying and thinking–if anyone cared. A few days after my story was published, I received a text from my editor saying that I was brave for putting myself out there. I appreciated the compliment, but I felt like there was something I didn’t know.
Later on, friends informed me of the backlash my story was receiving on social media. Fellow Seminoles posted the FSU report online saying, What is the big deal?
My story now not only includes groping, but also gives light to the poor reactions of my peers. Sexual assault isn’t taken seriously, and my peers’ reactions further reflected this problem
I reported the boy to protect others on campus from sexual assault or harassment. I knew if he got away with groping me, he might do it to someone else. I made this clear to the world, but some still refused to see this problem.
I don’t regret writing the article or reporting the incident. I did the right thing, and may have prevented more assaults from occurring. Before this incident, I felt uncomfortable using my voice. This event just reassured me of how much power my voice can really have.
I hope my story gives strength to those afraid to speak out against a problem or even stick up for themselves, because it wasn’t easy for me to do so.
I still find myself running on the bike trail, but I’m not scared. I know that I’m now strong enough to face the past or anyone who tries to resurface it.