UNK offers several resources for those who have been sexually assaulted, need help, or just need information. Click here for a list of those resources and numbers you can call to get help. There are people here for you.
The following is the first of a short series of stories that I will be sharing that come from women at the University of Nebraska Kearney who have been sexually assaulted while going to school there.
I will not be using any names at the request of the women and to keep them safe. Below is this woman’s horrible experience and how it impacted her life.
“Specifically, on campus the first time I was sexually assaulted was during my first semester at UNK in March 2016. I was hanging out with a former male friend in his dorm room doing homework in silence when he decided I gave him the “okay” to make a move. To this day, I don’t know what “sign” I could have possibly given him considering we were facing completely different ways and if he turned to look at me, he would have seen the back of my head. Anyways, he got up, took my laptop, straddled me and tried to force himself on me. I gave him all the non-visual cues during this: avoiding his face, pushing him off, trying to move and get a moment to slip out of his grasp. Finally, after what felt like several minutes he stopped and I told him: “No” as I packed up my homework and promptly left. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time he had forced himself on me but I was foolish enough to think that my “friend” wouldn’t really hurt me.
It didn’t register what he had done and I didn’t know if what he did was considered severe enough to report it. Unfortunately, because I didn’t report his assault right away he didn’t stop. I found out that two days later he had sexually assaulted one of my friends and she reported him later that week. He was jailed within 24 hours and was expelled from UNK later that semester but I didn’t know that late Fall 2016.
He was a master manipulator and manipulated not only me but multiple females, friends, and his family into thinking: “He would never do this. He’s done __, __, and ___.” I wanted to believe the best in people but the harder I tried to push what he did under the rug and out of my mind, the more depressed I became, and the more my body physically fought it. I went to my professor during some of his office hours and in the middle of it had a mental breakdown and he saw I was in distress. My body was reacting in ways my mind wasn’t ready to admit and I couldn’t understand why my emotions always turned into tears.
I finally set up an initial appointment with UNK Counseling but unfortunately again, it was nearing the end of the semester and I only had the initial appointment. Still, I couldn’t confess my secret to the counselor but she could sense my distress and grief.
It wasn’t until halfway through the summer that I was finally able to admit it to myself and confess it out loud. After I finally confessed my secret to someone, my body finally stopped fighting me. It was just the start on the road to healing and recovery. When school started in Fall 2016, I did not yet know he had been expelled and I was scared of seeing him on campus.
Later during that fall, my friend came to me after her attorney saw that my name was on his list of being a character witness, since it seemed that he had not taken my name off of his list to be a character witness and had manipulated me and multiple females into believing he was still a good man. I told her my experience and she encouraged me to report.
Scared and nervous, I went in and reported it to Kearney’s Family Advocacy Network and I told them my story, the details, and the backed-up proof that we were at the same place at the same time. As it turned out, I was the third female in the past year that reported his assaults. Unfortunately, that was as far as it got.
Shortly after my report, he accepted a plea bargain but consequently with the plea bargain, my charges were dropped while my friend’s stayed intact. Instead of being charged with so many counts of sexual assault, he accepted a plea bargain for 1st degree attempted sexual assault. At the time it made me happy, he was getting what he deserved but in hindsight I wish it wasn’t defined as “attempted.” This is due to his smooth talking and manipulative ways that I could see him taking it and using it as: “I didn’t even attempt anything and she was crazy!”
I went to his conviction and he was sentenced from four years to eight years even after multiple Victim Impact statements were made and presented before the judge. It was a small victory that day – any credibility he had before any more potential employers or anybody was gone.
With the help of my boyfriend, my Greek life family (both a fraternity and my sorority), and my classes I was able to find support and understanding as to why he did what he did. In one of my classes, I found a peer-reviewed article for my final paper over sexual assault and inside it gave me insight as to why some men thought silence meant consent. In my philosophy class, I was able to understand why my assaulter thought he was still a good person with the “Virtuous Man/Virtuous Actions” concept. He thought he was still a good man BECAUSE of his actions: He was a soldier and a former volunteer firefighter. However, as I learned in philosophy the virtuous man does virtuous actions because he has a great heart and that makes him virtuous. Other men will think these “virtuous actions” are what makes a great man but all of these actions mean nothing if it does not come from a good heart.
Nearly two years later I had another initial appointment at UNK Counseling for an unrelated reason. I did the paperwork and rated my care and after two years it is crazy to see just how much my mental health has improved. Even though I am not depressed or nearing being suicidal, when my counselor showed me my self-evaluation results from April 2016 to just a month ago I got a reality check as to just how much in distress I had rated myself. It was shocking to me that two years ago I rated myself highly depressed and nearing being suicidal and seeing how far I had come and how happy I have become.
A lot can happen in two years and if I could say anything to anyone that has recently been assaulted it would be this: “It’s okay to not be okay. You may not feel like you’re okay today, tomorrow, or the next day. You may feel like you have moved five steps forward and then move ten steps back the next day. Focus on healing, focus on you and one day you’ll be able to look back and realize how far you’ve come. I promise you that one day, you will be okay.”
I am using this platform to help give others a voice in any way that I can. If you have been sexually assaulted and would like to share your story, please send me it via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I will be sharing stories specific to UNK first and then expanding to other incidences of sexual assault from outside of the UNK campus.